Prince Andrew has claimed graduates are unprepared for the world of work, and that young people should only regard their university degree as “icing on the cake” when it comes to getting a job – not a guaranteed “route to market”.
The Queen’s son also questioned whether graduates leaving university without commercial experience were “useful people” to an employer as they are “educated but untrained”.
The Duke of York’s comments are likely to anger many graduates who have put in three years of hard work and paid over £27,000 for their degree, especially as the prince did not go to university himself. That’s quite an investment for “icing”.
Prince Andrew – who is carving out a new role as champion for apprenticeships – made the comments while praising the government’s expansion of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), which young people aged 14 to 19 are encouraged to attend before they go to university. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he said:
“Coming out of university there’s a tendency to believe that you’re trained as well as educated, which is not actually true.
“In some respects I think that choosing the apprenticeship path and doing a foundation degree and then going on to university you will always have the advantage over many of your university colleagues because you have earned your spurs in the business world before going to university, so you’re going into university as a trained person, you’re not coming out as an untrained person.”
The former Royal Navy helicopter pilot said he believed that offering a more vocational education for 14 to 19-year-olds will turn out teenagers who will have an advantage over many who stay in traditional education. The prince also told students at a UTC in Reading that bringing businesses into the school to set projects and help set the curriculum would give them an edge:
“…because without that business input how are you ever going have a skills knowledge to be able to go into a workplace and be useful people?”
Graduate Fog wonders whether this is the same Prince Andrew who stepped down from his role as the UK’s trade ambassador following a series of scandals over his business contacts – and who has no education expertise whatsoever? If so, we are unclear on why he feels he is in a strong position to lecture today’s graduates about who is a “useful person”, and who is not.
In recent months we have noticed a growing trend for creating yet more stages of (unpaid) training for young people, before they can have a job that provides an actual salary that they can live on. This coincides with a campaign to convince you that without commercial experience your contribution has no monetary value.
Graduate Fog challenges both these trends. Instead, we ask: when are employers and politicians (and waste-of-space minor royals) going to stop bashing Britain’s young people and start backing them by offering proper jobs, training and pay that reflects their valuable contribution to the nation’s workplaces?
*WAS YOUR UNIVERSITY DEGREE JUST “ICING ON THE CAKE”?
What do you think of Prince Andrew’s comments? Do you feel you’ve invested tens of thousands of pounds on “icing” – or has your degree prepared you for the world of work? If a degree is just “icing”, should this be made clearer to young people when they sign up to go to university? Share your views below!