Help Wanted | Panel debates value of post-secondary school
University, college and students agree that degrees and diplomas are valuable, but work needs to be done
The gap between skills and jobs was also the focus of debate at CBC Windsor's town hall Wednesday night at the University of Windsor.
Leading education officials gathered at the school's new engineering building to answer the question: Is education failing our students?
Panellists included University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman, St. Clair College president John Strasser, economist and former professor Mark Meldrum and Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance president Rylan Kinnon.
No one on the four person panel suggested anyone should be guaranteed a job after post-secondary education, no matter where they study.
However, Strasser said giving students marketable skills should be the goal.
"You cannot come to a post-secondary education in this day and age and spend tens of thousands of dollars and not have a job as a bare minimum at the end of that," he said.
Wildeman defended the academic degrees.
"If you have done a degree in Japanese history you should be proud," Wildeman said. "There's too much thinking a degree equals a job,"
Wildeman did say, however, that industry does need to help universities gear their programs to the job market.
"Industry needs to be talking to us and telling us exactly what is it that you need," he said.
He also said the university needs to look at more co-op placements for students.
Meldrum told the crowd post-secondary education can't do anything for students who don't belong there.
"Too many students today, I find, show up to university thinking that these are nothing but grades 13, 14 , 15 and 16. They're not prepared for a shift from instructor led classes to student led learning," he said.
Everyone on the panel agreed, a post-secondary education is still a valuable commodity.
"In the final analysis, a post-secondary education is all about getting a foundation that will allow you to make your own way in life," Strasser said.
University student Gazmon Tahiri doesn't expect a guaranteed job but he does expect to be prepared.
"University is responsible for kind of preparing you to be ready for that job you're going to get out there and pursue," Tahiri said.
Veronique Mandal, the co-ordinator of the St. Clair College Mediaplex, points the finger at the elementary and secondary levels of education, which she says are turning out graduates who can't write properly.
"I will have young journalists who can't go to cover court where, as you know, you can't use electronic equipment but they won't have the cursive skills to take notes," she said. "I think part of all of this is going back and looking at the elementary and high school systems."
For more audio, video and interviews from the town hall, tune into 97.5 FM throughout the day and watch Windsor at Six at 6 p.m. (channel 9, cable 10, Bell 587).