Monday, January 31, 2011

The degree divide

During the time of my childhood, if someone asked me what I wanted to be in the future, I used to proudly answer “doctor” with sparkling face. I’m not sure how this career goal came to my mind, but even my parents used to have the same sparkle on their face.

With the passing of time, I grew up and passed through the so-called Iron Gate. In the same spirit and goal of being a doctor, I joined a +2 course in a good college with expectations of coming closer to obtaining the degree needed to reach my career goals. Eventually, I found the study of human biology, and even the anatomy of animals, too much for me. So I slowly changed my mind about becoming

a doctor. I started to look into another profession: nursing. But after my family claimed that the number of nurses was mushrooming, thus making it hard to find work in a competitive job market, I was quite discouraged. After that, despite everyone’s doubts, I chose another path and took up a programme of study in the field of social work.

Subsequently, I have been again and again asked the same question that used to be posed to me during my childhood: What do you want to be in the future? My answer has shifted to “I will be a good social worker and serve my society.” Most people who hear me grant me a smile, but behind their non-verbal approval many seem to harbour some feelings of supremacy and look down on my chosen profession. But still, throughout my first and second years in school, I stayed true to my desire to be a social worker.

But now, as I near the end of my final semester before I earn my bachelor’s degree, I am again faced with uncertainty. I know I will have to face the same pressure after I graduate when a slightly modified question is posed to me, “Where will you be working?” This time, I am afraid I am going to be blank and confused. In the positions for students of social work, it will be difficult to find a job against the many applicants with varied backgrounds.

My own brother used to be a student of humanities. Now he is working in the field of hospitality management and even dabbles in his office’s accounts section too. I have seen several engineers working in different types of NGOs in positions that have nothing to do with their field of study. So what about those people who spend their time, money and energy to complete their studies in a particular field with the intention of landing specific jobs? If they are given to just anyone, regardless of course of study, what jobs will be available for those who earned the appropriate degrees? Are these degrees worthless?

People don’t always get jobs according to their qualifications. They often get positions that demands skills that fall far outside what they have prepared for. Why there is such a mismatch between degrees and professions. Is it the system, fate or something else?
by: Pramila Bisunke(The Kathmandu post)