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Workforce Over Skilled? 2006-11-15

Posted by clype in Articles of Interest, Scotland, Statistics.

A college principal has attacked the higher-education system, saying Scotland has too many universities and produces too many graduates who are destined for jobs ‘stacking supermarket shelves’.

The Principal of Kilmarnock College Mr.Mick Roebuck, says that, as a result, the country has a shortage of people with skills such as plumbing, which is harming the economy.

In a submission to ‘The Scottish Executive‘, he said the answer to the problem was to have ‘fewer, stronger institutions that can help Scotland to become a world-class player in higher education’.

  • Business leaders said there was a problem with skills in Scotland and said school-leavers needed to be told they did not have to go to university to get a job.

The College Principal made his comments in a submission to a ‘Scottish Executive’ consultation into whether ‘Queen Margaret University College’ should be awarded full university status. ‘Kilmarnock College’ was one of only two respondents opposed to the move.

The Kilmarnock College Principal’s submission said:

‘It could be argued that Scotland has too many universities for its size and, more importantly, for its needs.

‘Research does not indicate any significant shortage of graduates in Scotland. Indeed, there is considerable anecdotal evidence to suggest that too many graduates end up stacking shelves in supermarkets.

‘In contrast, there is evidence of skills shortages in intermediate level qualifications, which are provided by the Scottish college sector.’

The Principal’s comments were seized upon by the spokesman for ‘Universities Scotland‘ Mr.Robin Mcalpine who said:

‘These comments are wrong in almost every matter of fact. This is unnecessary hostility.’

The Spokesman pointed to research conducted by ‘Futureskills Scotland‘, which showed that record numbers of Scots graduates are working, and earning significantly more than those who did not attend university, as proof that the graduate labour market is buoyant. He added:

‘We have 13 universities and they are all full.

‘In fact, we’re turning people away.’

The Futureskills Scotland report, published in 2006-04, revealed that the number of graduates in the workforce has soared by more than 40 per cent over the past decade. The Director of Futureskills Scotland Mr.Stephen Boyle said:

‘Put simply, Scotland’s economy needed more graduates, and that is what we got.’

But a recent study showed that 15 per cent of graduates were not in a graduate-level job. The Chief Executive of CBI Scotland’s policy executive Mr.Iain Ferguson said:

‘We are not overly concerned about the number of degree-awarding institutions in Scotland.

‘However, we do want to see a greater proportion of graduates leaving these universities with science, engineering and mathematics qualifications.’

The Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Dr Lesley Sawers said that young people needed to be made aware that there were career options, which did not require a university degree.

‘We have got to target the general public, parents and career advisers to make them aware how the workplace has changed and that you do not necessarily need a degree to get a good job and make a worthwhile contribution.’

A spokesman for ‘The Scottish Executive’ said:

‘A survey from Careers Scotland this year showed that graduate earnings remain considerably higher than non-graduates. Not only that, but the majority are still in graduate jobs.

‘A highly skilled workforce is vital to growing the economy, and we want to see these trends continue,’ he added.



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