Education is the key to a bright future. The more education you obtain, the farther you will travel. As an older millennial growing up in the 1990’s, this was what every self-respecting teacher and parent drilled into us. Going to university and post-graduate studies was therefore a no brainer. I filled out my applications and accepted an offer to attend the best school in the country. I was ecstatic and told myself that I would not stop my education even after undergrad. Hell no. Life is about learning. I would never waste my IQ in a 9-5 job at age of 22. I could not see myself entering the work force at that age because I always knew I was meant for something greater even if it means putting my life on hold. I wanted to create, solve problems and change the world into a better place. The only way for me to achieve this was to further my education and obtain credentials that would help me fulfill my mission.
Fast forward to 2016. The economy has forced many young people to put down their rose-tinted glasses. It is time to face the reality that the economy has little need for people who with higher education. I woke up this morning to a headline that pretty much sums up the state of the economy today: in a tough job market, workers with advanced degrees are feeling the squeeze. It is a stark reminder of the times we live in – that education is no longer a valued asset that separates attractive candidates from the merely average. This dramatic shift in circumstances of young people today from those of an earlier generation is a sad comment on the world today. As we enter a post-industrial society where manufacturing jobs have dried up, there is a strong need for people who can think in new ways and critically evaluate the status quo. We desperately need fresh ideas and new insights that will jolt the economy back to life. There is a reason why Canada suffers anemic growth year after year. We have become a complacent culture. There is plenty of blame game going around mostly targeted at the shrinking manufacturing sector and the oil oligopoly. Maybe we will no longer bring back manufacturing jobs in the auto sector, but I do see opportunities in the knowledge sector that will translate into new manufacturing jobs. A case in point is the health technology area that has great potential. I am not advocating that we all turn into coders and programmers, but I definitely think there is room for creativity – new ideas that will generate gainful employment for the next generation.
I believe now as I did more than a decade ago that education is an asset that could never ever go wasted. I don’t think anyone ever put on rose-tinted glasses. Sure the grim news of a lack of appreciation for the highly educated has shaken my confidence in the past. However, the future belongs to the highly educated because they are the ones who will have the tools and an arsenal of knowledge to solve new problems. They are the future thinkers and creators. What differentiates a highly educated from the average educated is the ability to think far and beyond the immediate needs of a society; it is the ability to think in the long term.