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





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.
















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.








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







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





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Latest comments

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

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.

10.03 | 12:26

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

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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