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Monday, 14 November 2005

What's the use of an education?

My son got a job this summer. Nothing unusual about that, a lot of teens his age get jobs for the summer. But my son didn't quit when time came to go back to school. Instead, he got a raise, and more responsibility. Still working part-time, he's going to be making more than his dad once his next promotion comes through, probably before his age mates have started their senior year of high school.

So who needs school to succeed? My son doesn't. His teenage co-worker, who makes about $20 an hour, didn't finish high school. Neither, I suspect, did their employer. In fact, I'm pretty sure that most of their customers have had more education than anyone in the company. The culture here in north-central Indiana doesn't support the idea that education beyond the elementary level is essential to success.

Here are some interesting statistics on the comparative demographics of counties just north, and just south, of the Michiana state line ( including Indiana Counties: Elkhart, Kosciusko, St. Joseph, La Porte, Marshall and Starke; and Michigan Counties: Cass, Berrien, Kalamazoo, Van Buren and St. Joseph)

Indiana Counties Population 709,797
High school Graduates 78.6%
Bachelor's degree or higher 15.2%
Home Ownership 75.9%
Median Household Income $41,681
# Persons with Church Affiliation 287,164
Religious Congregations 817 (1 per 858 population)

Michigan Counties Population 597, 335
High School Graduate 81.7%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher 17.9%
Home Ownership 75.2%
Median Household Income $40,315
#Persons with Church Affiliation 218,982
Religious Congregations 583 (1 per 1025 population)

Indiana is more religious and less educated than Michigan.
But has a higher income and higher home ownership rate than Michigan.

I'd also like to see a list comparing the education of millionaires to the general public. Do you suppose more than 15% of them have bachelor's degrees? Bill Gates doesn't. I know of quite a few in Indiana who never got even so far as High School. But they do employ a lot of high school and college graduates!

Conclusion: Education and Income are not inextricably linked. The ability to communicate, follow directions, and get along with co-workers is far more an indication of ability to succeed than level of education.

So why are so many employers still insisting that college graduates only need apply?


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