As a career practitioner, I have mixed feelings about this announcement. Reducing the cost burden to the individual on learning and increasing the number of domestic places is a positive but law, commerce and humanities students will pay the price. Scaling the cost of courses tied to a prediction of future workforce requirements (which can only be a guesstimate in this VUCA world) demonstrates a narrow form of decision-making that doesn’t do justice to our complex systems. I can totally appreciate the rationale for making degrees more accessible when they lead to careers where there is a current or predicted shortage of workers but I fear for the implications this will have. At Strategic Career Management, we believe that people will thrive both personally and professionally when they choose a career that is well-matched to their strengths, motivated skills, interests and longer-term ambitions. That is not a career choice based only on the logic of “cheap to achieve and likely to get a job”. The move to play with course fees, combined with the government’s other Job Maker initiatives and the way these are being communicated, has the risk of encouraging people to make life shaping decisions based on very narrow criteria. Some may argue that if we work on the premise that ‘you’re capable of anything if you work hard enough’, where’s the problem? Our experience working with clients over the last 10 years indicates people should proceed with caution; career choices based only logical reasons such as convenience, pay, ease of achievement, career prospects etc can make for a difficult journey ahead with people often under-performing due to lack of natural motivation and fit for their chosen field, leading to stress and mental health issues, relationship difficulties and general dissatisfaction at work. This isn’t always evident in the early years, but by mid-life it has well and truly taken it’s toll.
At Strategic Career Management we will continue to support people to make well-rounded decisions that are appropriate for them as an individual, ensuring that logical reasons are only one piece of the jigsaw when it comes to deciding career path. If you have the opportunity to influence someone close to you, we ask that you actively encourage them to do the same.