The working degree

toccoIn a post published two months ago I wondered if having a degree was worth the money spent in education. In that case, the answer was yes, and the rate of graduate employees, compared with high school graduates, showed it clearly.

Tim Cestnick, managing director of Advanced Wealth Planning, Scotiabank Global Wealth Management, and founder of WaterStreet Family Offices, deals with the same issue in a recent article published on the Canadian online magazine The Globe and Mail.

Cestnick gives interesting numbers. According to a survey by the Canada’s National Household, 68 per cent of young people aged 25 to 29 held a postsecondary degree or diploma in 2011, while this proportion was just 43 per cent in 1981. This means that more young people still live with their parents, considering that they enter a professional career full six years later: 25 per cent of young people aged 25 to 29, compared with just 11 per cent in 1981.

The difference in wages is also remarkable (58,000$, compared to 37,000$ for those who just hold a college degree), and the field of study also matters: the median wage for those who graduated in liberal arts is 39,000$, while the average for health graduates is 52,000$.

Cestnik concludes that the amount of money students pay and the debt they are willing to take on should be driven by their potential earnings afterward.

If we compare these data with Italian ones, we find that holding a university degree is still worth the time – and money – spent over years.

An analysis over recent OECD data showed that in most developed countries, those who hold a university degree earn nearly 45% more money than those who only finished high school.

Moreover, the Bank of Italy examined the revenues from education, finding that it is more than a safe investment, even stating that studying is more profitable than investing in stocks. One year of education is as cost-effective as a private investment with a profit of 8.9%, compared to the 5.2% annual revenue of an investment in current stocks, the 3.6% profit of an average investor, and the 1.9% profit of non-stocks bonds (Bot and society bonds).

Thus, despite crises lead people to think otherwise, graduating from university is useful for a future job. It is important that university offers students, beyond structured curricula, aligned with the needs of companies, the necessary tools for unleashing individual creativity, to create their own job, in case they are not happy with what they found.

LUISS Enlabs, inside the Termini train station, was made up with this purpose: giving students from every universities have the opportunity of challenging themselves to create their own company. So far, in two years 30 start-ups were born in these spaces, and more than 300 young people have created their own job.

A degree is not a point of arrival, but a starting step, an opportunity, a challenge to take up. And it is worth the money.

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