Education is universally acknowledged to be of huge long term benefit in developing and developed countries alike.

In highly developed countries, such as in North America and Western Europe, young people sometimes pursue much higher levels of education than is practically needed for the career that they enter into. In this article, we weigh up the two motivating (and sometimes conflicting) goals of education: learning skills, and certification of ability.

 

Education and social status

In times past, a high level of education was simply not necessary for a person to earn a decent living. For example, the job of a blacksmith or cobbler did not require that the practitioner be highly educated.

However, in our increasingly technologically-driven world, a high level of education is now necessary in most fields to earn a living. Often, those entering a particular field of work will be required to obtain a university degree from an accredited institution, although this is not universally true, as many practitioners in certain trades may be self-taught.

Particularly, those entering the health care professions will be required to be graduates of a respected institution, and some professions, such as law, will require that practitioners hold a specific law degree.

While a high level of education is needed to earn a living in such cases, it is also true that a high level of education is associated with an increased social status. Those earning a living through the professions such as medicine or law are accorded a high social status, while those in trades that are considered “blue collar”, such as carpentry, plumbing, and other trades, are accorded (by some) a somewhat lower social status.

Since people associate status with education, it is often the case that a person with a high level of education will choose to pursue further education, in order to increase his or her status.

In the case of medicine, for example, a medical student may choose to pursue postgraduate education in order to become a specialist in a particular field of medicine.

 

Education for learning

Learning in a formal classroom setting can be highly rewarding.

It is also true that many people feel that there is something profoundly worthwhile about being educated, even when the only reason for this is the mere fact that one has been educated.

This is particularly true of those pursuing postgraduate education, since, while the most obvious benefit of a postgraduate degree is that it will lead to a higher paying job, it is also true that most employers will prefer to hire someone with a master’s degree or PhD over someone with a bachelor’s degree, because of the perceived benefit in skill.

In many cases, applicants for jobs will list the level of education that they have completed, even when the degree is not relevant to the job. For example, a real estate sales person, while not required to have any particular degree to earn a living, may choose to pursue a master’s in business administration (MBA) in order to improve his or her chances of landing a better job.

In fact, the necessary skills to perform important and technically challenging “blue collar” work (especially in the construction industry) are so specific and measurable, that we even have a different phrase to emphasise this distinction: recognition of prior learning (that is, RPL), which allows someone who has already acquired the hands-on skills to do the job, to obtain a certification that formally confirms their skillset.

 

Education and self-knowledge

The second goal of education that we discuss in this article is self-knowledge. Those that pursue a higher level of education, especially in the fields of psychology, philosophy, or other fields that are not specifically vocational, often do so in order to become more knowledgeable about themselves.

For example, a person may study philosophy in order to gain a better understanding of his or her own thoughts, or may study psychology and personality theory in order to gain a better understanding of the motivations and behaviors of other people.

 

Education and social mobility

 

In many parts of the world, education is seen as a path to greater social mobility. The UN has made education number 4 in the list of the top 25 UN sustainable development goals.

For example, in many developing countries, a person who has the opportunity to go to school will be able to use this opportunity to escape the poverty that has been the reality for his or her family for many generations.

In many developed countries, a person with a higher level of education will also be able to ‘escape’ the middle class, and will be able to earn a higher level of income than someone with less education.

 

Education and international competition

 

In many countries, the government has made education a priority in order to compete in the global economy.

The government of a country will often invest in education to make sure that their citizens have the skills and the knowledge needed to compete in the global economy.

In many developed countries, the government has made the decision to invest heavily in higher education, in order to provide more of its citizens with the opportunity to become highly-skilled, export those skills in the market, and to earn higher levels of income for both the individual and the country.

However, there is often a trade-off between investing in education and investing in other government services, and this can create a situation where the government cannot provide all the services expected by the public.

In conclusion, education is a highly valued commodity that is universally pursued.

There are two main goals of education, and both of these goals are common to countries in both developed and developing countries.

The first goal of education is that it will improve a person’s ability to earn a living in a given field, and to gain greater social status by engaging in a more prestigious profession.

The second goal of education is that it will lead to greater self-knowledge, including the ability to see the world and other people from a different perspective than that which we are accustomed to.

Education is the way forward for all nations and cultures to increase social mobility and the wealth of the people.