Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

A Different View

Academic ability shouldn’t be the only measure of success

Dave O'Connell

Published

on

There was a time in this country not so long ago that only the privileged few extended their education beyond the old Primary Cert; then the Inter Cert became a commendable achievement and finally the Leaving lived up to its name.

But now we’ve moved into a world where academic appears to be the only option and the formal learning curve can comfortably be stretched out into your late twenties.

Because we’ve just moved the bar up another level; now a primary degree is just the new Leaving Cert and a Masters is almost a given – and academia appears to be the only option.

Unless someone pays heed to the advice offered recently by the real Taoiseach, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who revealed her blueprint for solving youth unemployment.

She wants to promote the merits of Germany’s dual system of schooling and work experience – a mix of classroom learning and on-the-shop-floor work experience – as the best way forward at a time when almost six million under-25s in Europe are out of work. What she’s actually talking about are apprenticeships – not just as we know them in terms of mechanics or plumbers, but in terms of all careers in that you can learn more in a hands-on environment as you can in the lecture hall.

But we are pre-occupied with third level when clearly that no more suits everyone now than it did a generation ago.

Of course the reality is that a job in the civil service is no longer an option and there’s no need for apprentices when they are thousands of skilled tradesmen already out of work – but that doesn’t mean we should shove all of our young people into university because we can’t think of anything else for them to do.

Merkel quite rightly points out that we shouldn’t see academic success as the only measure – and the tens of thousands of Irish graduates who are either out of work or living in foreign parts are testimony to a one-track system here.

Germany, in contrast, has halved its youth unemployment since 2005 and they are now in a position to offer a place on a dual system training programme to every young person who wants one.

And that has resulted in a whole generation of skilled workers and master craftsmen taking their rightful place in German society, at the heart of an economy which hardly seems to have suffered because everyone doesn’t go to university.

In contrast here, we have thousands of twentysomethings with nothing more than writer’s cramp to show for sending out endless job applications; inevitable letters of rejections because they are overqualified for the jobs they would be more than willing to take.

It is not just the Government that’s at fault for this – the approach at second-level has become so blinkered that further education is the only serious option.

Everything is geared towards the points race so that you get your first choice on the CAO form; a sheet of paper with your exam results is the only measure of your success or failure for the first 18 years of your life.

But there’s no vision higher up the scale either; the Government came up with a JobBridge programme as a sort of quasi-internship, but in reality that’s just a way of massaging the unemployment figures.

We’ve had huge success in attracting hi-tech multi-nationals here on the back of our graduate numbers, but we’ve also become so fixated with this as the only measure of industrial success that we’ve dumped every other option.

The German idea is a more rounded approach to job creation as well as an acknowledgement that there is more than one measure of ability.

It is, of course, fantastic to live in a city and county with two top-class third-level facilities in NUIG and GMIT and we can never underestimate the value of having such easy access to academia on our doorstep. But, with 440,000 on the dole, clearly something else is also needed – and given that the German economy is the one we’ve already pinned all our hopes on, if they’ve found something that works, it at least demands closer analysis.

Because there’s more than one sort of third-level education – and perhaps it’s time we invested a little more as well in the university of life.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Connacht Tribune

Home is still full of memories even when it’s an empty nest

Dave O'Connell

Published

on

Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

We’ve all heard the phrase – and perhaps dread the concept; the empty nest, after the fledglings take flight and you’re left rattling around in a quiet house with just memories of those days of pandemonium and noise.

The social policy-makers would tell you that this is the time to downsize; save yourself the steps of the stairs and the cleaning, and cut down on the heating bills to enjoy your autumn days in accommodation more appropriate to your reduced needs.

And from a purely economic perspective, there’s merit in that. You have a house that’s now too big for you, and others can’t find a home of any size, let alone one sufficient for a full family – but that’s only one side of the argument.

The other is that your house is your home, and not because of its size – it’s because of its location, and your familiarity with its every nook and cranny. It’s also where those fly-away chicks still see as home, even if they’re now no more than occasional visitors.

As you grow older, familiarity is more important than ever; without the beautiful distraction of children, you grow even more dependent on neighbours and your community and the facilities you know on your old doorstep.

You know how long it takes to get to the shops or to the pub; you know you to give a spare key to in case you’re out when a delivery is due – or later on, if there’s a fear you might have a fall.

Your lifetime’s treasures – except for the children – are in your home; the sort of stuff others might see as clutter, but to you they are memories of holidays or graduations or births or marriages…those glory days that marked the chapters of your family life.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Authors’ pot luck – or insight into predicting a terrible future

Dave O'Connell

Published

on

Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It’s eerie how some people can appear to have an ability to see into the future; forecasting an event or a phenomenon, years – sometimes even centuries – before it comes to pass.

Much was made this year of a number of books and movies that anticipated what we now know as the Coronavirus pandemic; predictions that even led to renewed interest in publications like Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year that goes back to 1722.

Edgar Allan Poe described a fictional epidemic at the centre of his short story, the Masque of the Red Death.

“No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains and sudden dizziness and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution.”

More recently, Albert Camus’ the Plague explored the human toll of epidemics back in 1947 – and of course, the end of the world has been the subject of more movies than almost anything else.

But that’s not really suggesting they have some incredible insight into the future; Dystopian plots or backdrops are almost standard fare, and the spread of some toxin or virus is the easiest vehicle for writer’s to plot.

That doesn’t mean the reader or viewer isn’t stopped in their tracks when they come across a piece or a film that appears to have predicted the future.

One such slim volume that fulfils that brief is really just a long essay, entitled Here is New York.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

A press release written in the indelible ink of father’s pride

Dave O'Connell

Published

on

Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Somewhere in the world there might be a small forest felled every month to provide the paper for press releases that announce a new company or product line or some sales promotion.

They normally come from a public relations company that paints this as positively earth-shattering – and indeed any good news is as welcome as the first snowdrop of spring – but even reporters living in Pollyanna can grow tired of the superlatives delivered in gushing prose day after day.

And then, once in a while, something entirely different comes to pass – such as a letter that arrived into our office last week.

Two ambitious and courageous women have started a new business making candles since the start of the pandemic, and they are doing their best to gain some traction on traditional and social media. So far, so normal.

But the letter came from the father of one of the two women; neatly handwritten, perfectly constructed – and with the pride of a parent flowing off the page.

The business isn’t even in the Tribune’s circulation area, but that wasn’t an impediment to Paddy Keane from Ennis, who has made it one of his objectives for Covid to write two letters every second day to try and garner a bit of publicity for his daughter, Chantell, and her friend Danielle Kenneally.

He also reveals that he’s doing this despite being in the high risk category for Covid 19 – because he suffers from multiple health issues.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement

Weather

Weather Icon
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending