Faced with the same problem – most education having no relevance to job skills whatsoever – Charles Murray and S Mitra Kalita come up with diametrically opposite prescriptions. Murray recommends using certifications instead of degrees as entry requirements for jobs:
The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know, not where they learned it or how long it took them. They need a certification, not a degree.
Let’s promise purpose and stop separating education, training, vocations and “jobs”. Instead of letting first-generation learners enter the absurd pressure of arts versus science, we need to have a conversation, say by class VI, when dropout tendencies begin. It can be simple questions, such as “What do you like to do?” And then a skill can be imparted, alongside Tagore and civics, which I fear are often shafted.
They’re talking about different countries, but Murray’s plan is much more realistic than Mitra’s (if only for the reason that expecting someone in Class VI to know their purpose is sort of, well, futile). Offering certifications can be done my new organisations, offering degrees, alas, depends on our creaking and pathetic universities to come up with new degree programs and new infrastructure. Considering they don’t get the stuff they’re doing now right, I don’t have great hopes for the BA in plumbing.