5 August 2015

In the Guardian this week I read about students choosing subjects to make them more employable rather than following their passion and it really struck a chord with me.

The article went into detail about salaries for graduates of certain topics; it seems to be it’s all about the money. In my experience, money will only drive you so far. What happens when you’re lower on the corporate ladder or you hit a stumbling block, and you aren’t earning the money you’d like – how do you stay engaged and motivated then?
graduation

When looking at setting up a business or something that you want to succeed at, you should look at three circles. I learned this formula from one of Jim Collins’ books. It’s part of something called the hedgehog concept. What are those three circles?  “Are you passionate about it? Is it financially the right thing to do, and can you be the best at it?”

Although students are deciding that some subjects are not financially the right thing to do, being bored by the topic you’re studying and eventually building in a career in, surely can’t reap the rewards of a subject that drives you and that you enjoy. I am all for mind over matter, but can you stay motivated if your heart isn’t in it?

One of the students quoted in the article said that although he is passionate about English, he has chosen computer science to study to make him more employable, admitting that he is bored in lectures. I find it hard to believe that this young man can build a career on something he finds so uninteresting, when there are people out there who do follow their dream and are actively engaged with it.

On the surface, more students choosing these topics seems great to tackle the tech skills gap – but at what cost? Do we want to employ demotivated graduates, who’ve studied a topic to get a job at the end of it, or people who are less qualified but more passionate?

Whilst, according the this article, business studies in now the most popular subject in the country, how many of the big entrepreneurs have actually studied business and how many have followed a passion? When I set up my music business, I was following a passion and that’s what kept me going through the struggles of a startup – not the money. With UKFast, it was my passion for providing a great service; it was not my knowledge of business or want for more money that kept Gail and I on track when we were working 24 hours a day and eating cereal for every meal.

I think we need to have a better approach to university education. Graduates are coming out of university expecting huge salaries and a step up without having the experience. They’re choosing subjects on this basis rather than on the notion of working hard at something they love. I believe that showing passion and excitement for a topic far outweighs the skills aspect – we can provide that training ourselves.

What do you think?

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