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By degrees

• In relation to the sprawling advertisement entitled 'Springboard -- improve your job prospects' in the June 21 edition, Tom Boland emphatically states that "all the evidence shows that the higher the level of education a person has achieved, the more likely he or she is to gain employment".

Academics and universities are very fond of espousing this view. However, PhDs -- even in the sciences -- struggle to find long-term, meaningful employment.

On my travels through this country, I have come across a graduate with a degree in earth sciences working in a B&B in rural Co Limerick, another with a degree in environmental science working in a bar in a Co Mayo village and I have heard of another, an MSc graduate in science, working in a large supermarket in Galway stacking shelves. All are NUIG graduates.

This is not to mention the 200-plus -- mainly graduates -- who are leaving this island every week in search of employment abroad.

The problem with the majority of third-level courses at Irish universities is that they are non-vocational. They do not provide you with any relevant experience and, consequently, you are poorly prepared for the Irish jobs market, where experience counts for far more than any qualifications you may have.

Mr Boland seems to be suggesting that having spent three to five years gaining your primary degree, and not being one step closer to finding a suitable role other than minimum-wage type jobs, you should return for a second go, and perhaps you will be luckier the second time round.

Desmond Nugent, BSc, PhD, M.Pharm, MPSI
Ballybane, Galway

Irish Independent