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When asking a grade 12 class who wants to go to university, you can bet that almost every single kid in the room is going to raise their hand. It’s a shame, as the reality is that university is not suited to everybody, and there are plenty of other ways to make good money and have a rewarding successful career, other than going to university.

Unfortunately it gets drummed into our heads when we are kids, that we need to study hard and go to university, that if we do not go to university, that we are a failure and will go nowhere in life. We are brought up to believe that if you go to university, you will be successful, and rich!

We are led to believe that any degree, will guarantee instant success. Under pressure to go to university, kids do not take into consideration the current economy, or the job market, or what their real strengths are, or that getting a degree nowadays is not necessarily going to open all the doors that a degree once opened. There are degrees that will always be in demand and for those interested in mining related degrees such as becoming a mining engineer, there will probably always be a demand, but this is not the case for all degrees.

And so we have a generation of kids that fall for this sales pitch and many now find themselves after 4 years of studying at university with their dreams in tatters, with massive debt because of student loans, and in many cases no job.

The reality is that whilst university can be a great thing for those who are suited to it, and that have the right aptitude but it, for many it can end badly, and struggling students either drop out, or end up with a useless or unsuitable degree, and not many prospects of finding a job.

By encouraging all kids to go to university, well-meaning parents and teachers are without knowing it actually just setting some kids up for failure, as they are just not university material and are not going to be able to graduate.

Parents are largely responsible for drumming into their kid’s ears that they must go to university, and seldom do they give trades a second thought, unless they have to pull out their cheque book to pay for the services of a plumber or an electrician.

It is a shame as there are jobs in trades in mining that are going begging, they are also highly paid and offer great careers. However because high school graduates have been so indoctrinated, many students do not even consider trades. What many students and their well meaning parents do not know, is that while salaries in trades are steadily increasing especially in mining, the salaries for some university graduates are not necessarily doing the same.

University is not cheap, and graduates are also often left with massive student loans that they spend years trying to pay off. Trades and technical schools are a great alternative to universities for many, especially for those that are good with their hands, and not that academically orientated. They also offer way cheaper classes and teach trades that are sought after in all industries, including the mining industry.

High school graduates need to be aware that there is life beyond getting a degree, and that there are options out there in trades that they may be better suited to, that offer more job security and that may be more lucrative long term. There are also in many regions more career prospects available to young people in trades than there are for those with academic qualifications.

Don’t allow parents and teachers drill into your head that university is the only path to success, as it is not, and we as adults need to encourage students to look into technical schools and the possibilities of pursuing trades as a career.

Just as our society needs doctors, teachers and accountants, so to do we need welders, mechanics and electricians.

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