A great misconception I think by many people is a diploma equals work. It is not entirely true. I came from two different backgrounds, from being very poor to being able to afford the little nice things in life and I went through two different educational systems, and now the third as a parent. The people in my homeland saw life differently than those in France where I lived for a decade and the French sees it differently than those in the UK.  Of the three, I cannot think which is better or worst. And I will definitely go off topic if I talk about it. Besides, I am just an observer and people have different stories to tell.

Firstly, I was raised in the Philippines and I experienced hardships (lots of it) which I think many children here in the UK take for granted. I still remember walking a mile away from home to sell fish! My mother always told me to do good in school so I can help the family (being the eldest). From elementary (junior) school, I already started thinking on what I would do and what type of companies to work for without ruling out the possibilities of working overseas. So I worked hard, got good grades (& medals). I knew then that there was a possibility that I may not work what I studied so I heartily agreed (and attended) short trade courses and learnt to cook, make dresses and toys and bags. From 7yrs old to 16years old, we learnt to speak English as our second language, learnt history of the world, biology, physics, chemistry (I loved being in the lab & make things explode), we learnt home management (including cooking, hosting and service), we learnt to perform. Our local schools love musicals. We’d practice on our show after cleaning our classrooms, sometimes we make our own costumes. We also had our own gardens, we tend. The crops we harvest we display on nutrition month, graded then cooked or we take home. Yes, we start school at 7.30am and finish at 5pm. I think it is different now since there is a shortage of classrooms, some children only go to school for half a day. Which is a pity really and I think they are the ones missing out.

I went to a university in the Philippines. I applied to two and got accepted to both Electronics Engineering course in a private university and a state university. I knew I could do it (as long as I am not distracted). There were over 10 thousand applications on the state university I chose. Only about a thousand or so got accepted for the first year. The second year in that school only about 3/4 of those accepted are able to continue and the number dwindles the further they go. I know that in my batch, only a handful finished with engineering diplomas and the very best of my classmates were headhunted by the biggest companies. The reason they got the job was because of how good they were, the skills they’ve learnt and how difficult it was to get there. Of course, every situation is different so, we’ll never know for certain if the combination of these parameters are true and would work for every country.

The opportunity arose before I finished school that took me to France and I grabbed it with both hands. I enrolled to a university in Sophia Antipolis for the same course. Genie de Telecommunications et Reseaux. Here the students were very studious, they knew that they will not be able to continue if they failed. I tried my best but my teachers and I spoke different mathematical languages. Although we almost always came up with the same answer, the way to it was different and as they can’t grasp on how I got there, my grades were never as they used to. I admit, differential calculus is not my forte so I got my books sent to me so I can understand what they want to tell me. In the end, I decided to just find work and I did! I spoke two languages, computer literate, can wire basic network in the office and am not afraid to scrub the floors if I had to.

Then, I was also new to the French language and I learnt the French language in only 6 months. Of course, I felt let down to have been under an excellent teacher then the government sent me to a mediocre one just so I can get my certificate. I learnt the street language (and the vulgar ones) in the centre… ugh. I hated that experience.

Now, here in the UK is a totally different experience and I never really grasp it yet. My children are still in infant and junior schools and so far the only  thing I am sure is that they are learning is in English, Math and Sciences. I am not questioning it as the system worked for my husband who’s got a doctorate in Computer Science. But I still doubt that my children actually learn a lot compared to how much I learnt when I was their age.  In the Philippines, we only got to hear of the wonderful artifacts of the past and see their pictures in books, here in London, they can actually see it. By trying to get as many current things as they can, I think the basics/foundation is being skipped. In hand writing for example, how many young children do you know have a neat, straight and beautiful cursive? I was shocked that they’re quickly taught cursive when they can’t even master their straight lines and print. Also, the focus in teaching and learning was lessened because of the reports and targets and all the bureaucratic crap the government impose on schools. Life is tough, the children will NOT see it if they can get away with grades such as 20%. When I was school, black grades on the report card is 85%-100%, blue is 75% to 84% and red is 74% and below is failure. 20% passing grade is below ridiculous and the parent should be advised to find a tutor for their children! My brother’s 75% grades is making me proud of him somehow and to think all the smack/ talking down to/ etc… he got from the family for failing miserably made him resent us for being smart heads. The family finally accepted that he will never be as smart but we still demand that he stick to the passing grades and no more red ink on the report card.

My husband started doing part-time work since he was 11years old doing paper round and continued doing some form of part-time work throughout his studies until he graduated from university. And even if he’s finished school, he still continued studying to keep up to date on current trends in his field. These days, it is easy to get outdated.

So with all this reports about how many new graduates not finding jobs, I am wondering  what will the future be like for my children. And about the new graduates of today, I am wondering, if they’ve only looked for jobs in their fields of study. Have they tried something else, they can just to get experience or salary? Have they practiced what they learnt for personal projects? Jobs evolve, did they keep their knowledge up to date?   Have they got in touch with a head hunter for jobs and ideas on what skills are in demand? I think the private sector employers are becoming more discerning and those whose resume resembles thousands other will not have a chance at all (unless they’re lucky or in the right place & time). Just one advice though, do not make your resume look better by squeezing those barely there skills you dabbled on. Be honest. And if you want to add those skills, practice them on personal projects, who knows?? those personal projects might prove lucrative and you won’t have to look for another thing to do.

Job wise, I’ve been an administrative assistant, secretary, personal assistant, chef on a luxury yacht, stewardess on a luxury yacht, real estate agent and now a photographer. Did I love my jobs? yes. Did I get to use my skill in electronics and computer? yes. Did I get to use those skills I learnt when I studied trade skills? yes. Did all these experience make my resume confusing? hell yes! 🙂 And I love every moment of it.

A diploma can certainly life make easier but it’s what you’ve done that make the difference.

Anyway, how well the children achieve later in life depends on the parents and I think I will try my best to share what I learnt to mine. I am afraid to confuse them but I think it’s the only thing that will give me peace of mind and give them better chance in the future. If they are not receptive, time to get strict.