My World

The Lie of 'Life-long learning'..

  

As i sit down to another session of job search,

 

having recently seen the end of

 

another temp contract due to

 

project closure, i realise blogging

 

and job search are not mutually exclusive.

 

Yes, I can do both, perhaps not at the

 

same moment but certainly in the

 

same time-frame.

 

 

Guess i must be 'multi-tasking', that thing that we, as men, are often

 

told we can't do or certainly can't do well. This immediate period after

 

working makes me look at my Curriculum Vitae and all the further study

 

and varied work that i have done in the past. It seems i either end up

 

travelling during these times or signing up to another educational

 

adventure. It is these forays into further education that i want to talk

 

about.

 

 

I may have mentioned in previous pieces, (see grass is greener) (see

 

Aus is rip-off) my favourite 'bugbear' these days is the term 'life-long

 

learning'. You see, I have had it up to the eyeballs in further education.

 

You may read this and be saying “what a grumpy old man” or “this is

 

just sour grapes” and maybe that is true. At one time my parents

 

believed and i certainly believed that education was key to a bright

 

future. The mantra of “get a degree and the world will be your

 

oyster.” These days there's a lot of hoo-hah about graduate

 

employment prospects and average salaries, you can read a few of

 

them here and make up your own mind. The truth is theres quite a few

 

of us with degrees in particular fields who are not working in those

 

fields. I have met a number of graduates, even those with multiple

 

degrees who are working temp jobs in data entry or retail because

 

they feel they can not get jobs in their industry for whatever reason.

 

 

 

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4125.0main+features2320

 

Jan%202013

 

 

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/business/graduates-slip-

 

down-the-salary-ladder-as-other-professions-offer-big-money/story-

 

e6frg97x-1226076668712

 

 

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/university-

 

graduates-earn-66000-after-four-years-in-workforce/story-e6frgcjx-

 

1226314911253#

 

 

http://www.hobsonscoursefinder.com.au/Latest-news/Australian-

 

graduate-employment-prospects

 

 

http://content.mycareer.com.au/salary-centre/

 

 

 

While at University, we were often told “oh well, you can always

 

come back and do more study.” From one university that holds itself up

 

as the 'international university', selling itself to the world, this really is

 

not a bad little scam is it? Given the cost of a university education and

 

that universities are 'packing them in' in some courses, it is what i call

 

a 'factory', big business these days. We come out the other end, having

 

paid our money and done our time with a piece of paper in hand and a

 

lot of expectation. However, if theres not the jobs in the industry or

 

very few then why are these courses still running? Generally, a

 

university education is a good thing, it teaches you not just what to

 

think but how to think, how to problem solve and how to prioritise.

 

There are some that do this better than others just as there are some

 

graduates who do better than others. I know of examples of those who

 

have done very well from having a degree but i also know of those

 

that have no degree at all and succeed. First, let me go back to the

 

beginning...this is just one man's story.

 

 

Life-long learning

 

 

 

I came through

 

The school of hard knocks

 

Just scraping by

 

With an attitude that hardly rocks.

 

 

 

Got a leaving certificate

 

From confinement solitary

 

And felt the loneliness

 

Of being sent to coventry.

 

 

 

Completed some courses

 

In a business-like manner

 

Whereupon I entered the works

 

And threw in the proverbial spanner.

 

 

 

How to get that job

 

Saw me working like a tool

 

Till I’d had enough of the grind

 

And got out from mis-managements rule.

 

 

 

Chose a Bachelor in bulldust

 

From a second rate university

 

Only to be surrounded once more

 

By injustice and adversity.

 

 

 

Threw in the towel at the first sign of teaching

 

But somehow made it back on the treadmill

 

Gained a Masters in misery now

 

I’m just a postgrad with a bitter pill.

 

 

 

 

By the time i was 25 I already had several certificates to my name but

 

no degree. I had gained these certificates from business colleges or

 

business academies. I had left school with very little idea and not great

 

results. So I began with a 22 week course in Business Administration

 

from one of these colleges and then took on a year-long Clerical

 

Traineeship. For the traineeship i did both on-the-job and off-the-job

 

training as required. During that traineeship i was awarded a couple of

 

certificates such as Customer Service Skills and other workplace

 

specific skills. Given that i was a trainee customer service officer at

 

that time, this learning was particularly relevant wouldn't you say?

 

 

 

 

 

In college I was given a 'Student Achievement Award' and yet banned

 

from spelling bees in Business Communication class as i was always

 

getting 10 out of 10 or 9 out of 10. The students/trainees around me

 

were barely getting 5 or 6 out of 10. The prize was just a chocolate

 

frog but still.. doesnt pay to be too good at something? This is not

 

arrogance on my part, far from it, just a recognition of the little things

 

that i do do well. Unlike the arrogance of the college principals who

 

spouted such pearls of wisdom as 'the best form of revenge on an old

 

boss or bitchy ex-colleagues is to succeed'. Of course, 'success' being

 

measured by the car you drove or your new job title and your annual

 

salary. These same principals would, at times, have important guests or

 

international visitors and they would have to come and go by the same

 

lifts that the students used to get to class. Given the lack of elevators

 

in the building, the principals would demand that the students packing

 

the elevator leave the lift to make room for the visitors. It happened

 

at both colleges I attended and I saw it happen several times. These

 

people were paying students, why should they be told to move just

 

because it was inconvenient for the the principal? Heres a poem i

 

wrote about the courses i attended.

 

 

 

 

Off Course!

 

 

 

You say you’ll see us at the top,

 

If not, then you should get the chop.

 

However, you run the whole show,

 

About which you constantly crow.

 

 

 

Oh dear Miss Sarina,

 

Everybody has seen ya.

 

Especially on the telly,

 

Causes a pain in my belly.

 

 

 

You’ve got your own institution,

 

Where you talk about the best retribution.

 

They say you are a life-saver,

 

Well, it's attention and you’re a constant craver.

 

 

 

You get into the buildings lift,

 

And tell the huddled masses to shift.

 

You've got visitors and want to be right,

 

So, paying students should stay out of sight.

 

 

 

Well, there was no job at the end of this traineeship, just an offer of

 

some 'on-call casual' work in another location which I declined. I

 

decided to keep looking for the next full-time step and was full of

 

hope. Subsequently gaining a couple more certificates in things such as

 

Telephone Skills and various workplace inductions which included

 

workplace health and safety along the way. It became clear over time

 

that I was competing for better positions with people who had

 

Bachelor degrees already. So, after much moving around and no

 

permanent placements, I was convinced to do a degree.

 

 

 

 

I applied for tertiary admission as a 'mature age student' and was

 

accepted given my certificates and work history. During all this lead up

 

to entering the undergraduate course, I had travelled around Australia

 

see my posts titled 'Joy of travelling..albeit domestically (pt1)' and

 

'(pt2)'. I still had some money saved and paid my fees up-front gaining

 

the discount for doing so. However, it was still a hit to the wallet and

 

buying all the set textbooks every semester didn't help this situation.

 

 

 

 

The convenors of these courses tend to set new editions as the

 

selected texts, saying that previous editions are not applicable. Guess

 

what, this makes you purchase the new edition but then you can't

 

onsell it as the next semester they change the edition.. funny that?!!

 

The longer you wait to offload these texts the less you can even give

 

them away to secondhand book sellers. Otherwise they just gather dust

 

on a book shelf at home. Strangely, most of the editions are edited or

 

written by the convenors or associates of the convenors within the

 

university. Who pockets the money for this?

 

 

 

I got my first preference, which was a 3 year full-time bachelor degree

 

in a social science, choosing that because i had a long-standing interest

 

in the field. It must be said, I did not necessarily choose it as a career

 

path but thought that if i did a degree in an area of interest then i

 

might have a chance at keeping the motivation during assignment and

 

study times. Generally my theory worked, i did keep my motivation till

 

near the end of the course, though i soon realised i was not a high

 

distinction student. I remember a fellow student who use to say “51

 

percent is 1 percent too much effort”, strangely he disappeared after

 

the first year?

 

 

 

My folks attended my graduation along with a couple of family friends

 

and they were proud of my achievement. I would say, I wouldnt have

 

done it without them. After graduation, I found myself a job with an

 

employer I felt sure would look at the degree favourably and that my

 

future was assured. I again entered the public sector as an

 

admin/civvie, (see my post on 'Gun culture' ). In this and subsequent

 

workplaces, as soon as I would say i have a degree, colleagues and

 

even supervisors would say “What are you doing here then?” or

 

something similar.. as if having a degree was a guarantee to get better

 

paid roles and faster promotions. So, what was i doing in the mail

 

rooms and working as a filing clerk or data entry jobs? In this

 

environment, i soon learned it wasn't what you know but who you

 

know. Unfortunately, i didnt really know anybody (see my post on

 

'philosophy' re circle friends versus ladder friends).

 

 

 

Skip forward several years, after leaving that job due mainly to

 

dissatisfaction, partly due to my own expectations and more

 

specifically to not meeting mine and others expectations. I did think

 

about further study but quickly discounted it a number of times.

 

Further study is like an addiction, the more you have the more you

 

think you should get. Eventually after several more changes of jobs and

 

personal development periods such as travel etc.. I came to the

 

conclusion that I was competing with people who had honours degrees

 

or even a Masters degree. Of course, i had gained several more

 

certificates during that time, mostly to do with workplace specific

 

skills and computer packages. But this wasn't enough and with the

 

mantra of life-long learning in my head, i applied for a Masters degree

 

in Commerce with a focus on Accounting. How i came to this course is

 

a long story but the short of it is: I was convinced that since i did well

 

in basic bookkeeping in college and other business studies that I should

 

be good at Accounting. I also thought i could combine it somehow with

 

my justice administration degreee and move into some interesting

 

forensic field.

 

 

 

Accounting

 

 

 

Its a numbers game,

 

That wont bring you fame.

 

You might always have cash to your name,

 

But all your clothes will look the same.

 

 

 

You have studied the form,

 

It seems like the norm.

 

You are just one of a swarm,

 

But have never lived in a dorm.

 

 

 

The time spent learning,

 

And dreams of future earning.

 

Into what are you turning,

 

With no passion burning.

 

 

Of course, I was accepted back into university with a degree behind

 

me and I took on the challenge of mastering accounting. Not an easy

 

thing for me to do but two years later I graduated with the Masters,

 

which is where I met my partner. I really struggled with this course and

 

the same motivational measures were not present during this time, it

 

just wasnt a field of real interest to me. I did it simply in the belief

 

that it would expand my horizons and give me much wider choice in a

 

career than the social sciences. I graduated with hope that I had

 

chosen correctly and was keen to start a new career path.

 

 

 

 

While attending to my studies in Accounting, i learnt that after you

 

finish your degree, you have to undertake further studies and

 

mentoring period before you can qualify as an Accountant. At the time I

 

didnt really think about it, but it has been an issue since. Just simply

 

joining the professional associations such as CA or CPA is pricy enough

 

but the cost of further study combined with the lower pay of graduates

 

and intermediates is enough to put some off that idea. You could say

 

that it simply 'sorts the wheat from the chaff' but equally you could say

 

that 'accountants know how to eat their own!' If the associations think

 

that the education you get at Uni is not enough then why dont they

 

work with the universities to develop more practical subjects/courses

 

within the degree? For one thing, we never really learnt practical skills

 

in the various computer packages that most businesses and accounting

 

firms use. Why is there not more MYOBSAP etcetera in university

 

accounting courses?? Instead, we concentrated on Excel!! Does

 

Microsoft have a monopoly on universities?

 

 

 

 

I can honestly say that I have only had 1 job over all these years where

 

I was directly employed because of the degree that i gained. Given my

 

struggles with the material during my studies it is not surprising that i

 

struggled in this position and after a trial period it was not continued.

 

So, what am i to do now? Getting older with an ever-increasing filing

 

cabinet full of certificates and very little recognition of these by

 

prospective employers? (see A workin stiff) Now that i've hit 40, i've

 

realised that there's 20 or more years left of my working life given the

 

increasing retirement age.

 

 

 

 

Of course, my thought process now begins with 'should i study again?'.

 

If so, what should i study? Since the Masters i have gained several more

 

certificates in workplace specific skills and had several more changes

 

of employment. I've said it before but if i won the lottery, apart from

 

travelling wider and volunteering I would probably study Philosophy.

 

Since that hasnt happened and i have begun to think that the lottery is

 

rigged then i guess i'm back to square one. Prior to and since, i have

 

often thought “I should have just done a trade”. Even my parents said

 

this subsequently and they were such fans of further education. I see

 

the positives to this such as getting paid while you study and the

 

practical manual skills that you can still use even if you go on another

 

path.

 

 

 

 

Feels like the case of Sisyphus, the ancient man pushing a ball up a hill

 

only to get near the top and have it topple down the bottom again. A

 

more recent uphill battle has made me think 'Honesty is not always the

 

best policy'... stay tuned, i will explain why in my next post. In the

 

meantime, if you have any comments or if you have some suggestions

 

for me then please dont hesitate to put it in the box at the end of this

 

post.

 

 

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10.03 | 19:15

I have stood by and watched a with concern and love. I admire the way you have handled yourself and the situation. My love with you. In admiration. Fly

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10.03 | 14:07

Well, come back the TOG you old git. We will love you unconditionally there.

Seriously though, this is a good post. I am sorry for your pain mate.

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Spread your wings you dodo, you might be able to fly.

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24.06 | 14:03

It's becoming increasingly important for businesses these days. Larger businesses are even employing specialists to run social media campaigns

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