Saturday, 9 April 2011

Thick as a Brick and still getting a degree. Welcome to the UK.

How long before someone musters the balls to say what everyone is thinking; Not everyone is clever enough to go to university. The sooner they realise this the more money they can save by stopping people studying mickey mouse degrees. And instead stick them in real vocational courses which will actually benefit them and their intellect. Oh yes I did go there; lo and behold, only a very tiny cohort of the population are clever enough to study STEM subjects. The rest are not. Do you know why? Because they are hard, very hard; it is not a coincidence that every great scientist and inventor hitherto had an intellect the size of Belgium. It is not a coincidence that all our literary works and historical accounts are written by people with an almost bizarre flare for language. History, Maths, Physics, Classics or what have you require commitment. Scholarship for the masses? Pull the other leg. How many people between 20-25 years of age, do you think are prepared to spend four years of their lives writing a thesis? Very few because it is very hard, very arduous, strenuous, nerve wrecking, stressful, harmful, damaging to your health. The only reward you get is a semi-pamphlet with your name on it written in golden letters, and a title - a title which only a handful of people in the world know enough about to provide informed judgement. That is the reward for scholarship.

But hey what do I know, why train scientists, engineers, writers, historians, musicians and doctors when it is clearly holistic therapists and puppeteers that Britain needs. We all know that they make enough cash to keep the welfare state going...


Having received two very incisive comments I thought I would share my experience of applying for bank internships this summer. Now before we go there I would just like to say that I am forced to apply to banks because my academic guideline (my tutor) is a complete moron. And for various reasons, best left undisclosed, I could not apply to what I really wanted to this summer. But such is life.

Banks have little time or regard for the politically correct liberal BS system that today is education in the UK. They do not believe in "soft" degrees such as Business Studies or Management. If you want to get a job with a top bank they will laugh at you if you present that. No, 9 out of 10 times the applicant has a degree in either Economics, Computer Science, Maths, Engineering, Physics or some combination or derivative of these. Naturally the banks are obliged to say that they do consider 'other' subjects as well. But this is largely smoke and mirrors. Very few if any interns have done any other degree that those stated above.

But it gets better.

On initial screening they effectively weed out all but people who are from 'target universities' - now there remains some uncertainty which these actually are. It is without doubt Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial and UCL. But then internet forums on this issue tend do disagree whether banks view Warwick and Durham as target universities as well. Safe to say only a very small number of people from non-target universities get through the initial screening process. Naturally some do, and good on them for theirs is an uphill struggle.

Then they move on to grades.

They are very blunt in this regard; top grades or nothing. They have a section where you can write about your special circumstances should your grades not be up to scratch [some banks - not all]. They look at your extra curricular, your societies, your charity support - they even have a special section for this, i.e. it is assumed that you do charity work. Naturally a lot of applicant make this section up for most do not do charity work. But it just goes to show what kind of people they expect to recruit.

Then they go on to psychometric testing.

To ensure that the applicant is not just lying on his application and CV (which they will check if you are successful) they make you do tests in maths and logic. These are timed tests. Typically it is a 20 minute test with 23 questions which require a lot of calculation. Rumour has it that the benchmark is quite low because they are so hard. The logic bit can be either reading and context or figure logic. Fun but demanding. Naturally you could get a friend to do this for you but they make you retake these tests at the assessment centre should you be invited.

Then there is a telephone interview.

This is to ensure that you are not Mr. BS and actually know a thing or two about banking and that you are who you say you are. This is quite easy most of the time, some people manage to fail it which is rather amazing, but most who have got to this stage pass it (so I am led to believe). They tend to ask mostly competency based questions and few technical, mostly because it is usually administered by the HR department of the company. Hence they know of nothing technical.

Then there is an assessment centre if you have got this far.

These tend to start at 0830 in the morning and end late in the afternoon. Where you are subject to two to three interviews by senior management, ranging from competency to technical interviews. Group discussions to test your ability to interact, presentations before managers, more psychometric testing. Also you tend to get lunch which is nice.

Depending if you suck or not they give you an offer. Mind you, they usually invite about 20 people to an assessment centre but only 30% of those get offers. But this differs from bank to bank.

Such is life in the sector which does not care about the government's multicultural targets, its diversity objectives and political correctness. Equality? They laugh at the word. They want the brightest people and will go through any length to get them.


Just Woke Up said...

When I was studying real engineering at Uni I was always amazed that some students seemed to spend most of their time in the student bar. First, how could they afford it - I was working nights as a security guard to afford tins of beans and fresh grass. Second, what the fuck were they studying to be able to spend each day in a stupor? Our class certainly were far too busy errr studying and learning stuff to join them. If only the money squandered on these pseudo-degrees was instead spent on people on courses where we will later actually create and add real wealth to the country.

What did Uni teach me? That most students are thick as fuck!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Although in my experience even STEM subjects (and medicine and Law and every other "hard" degree) have been devalued. The twin pressures of lowering the entry standards and improving grades will prove to be disastrous for the UK.

When I was young, I have one eye on retirement now, only the top 5% or so were clever enough to go to uni. That is not to say the other 95% were thick, they weren't, just generally not bright enough to go to uni and many of those 95% went on to very successful and lucrative careers. With dedication, hard work and vocational / collage training people could achieve very senior positions.

The intellectual elite, whatever their class or financial background, went on to become very, very good in their chosen fields. Perhaps my glasses are too rose tinted but I cannot deny the evidence I witness every day. Young graduate engineers that are inept and don't know or can't grasp the simplest of principles. Even chartered status does not guarantee a level of competence. Everything is being dumbed down and qualifications can no longer be relied on to indicate a level of competency. 40 odd years ago, when I started in engineering you could associate with a persons qualifications. Whatever they had achieved, C&G, C&G Tech, ONC, HNC, HND or Degree I could be relatively sure of their current competence level.

I once interviewed a candidate for office manager, she turned up waving her MBA (Master of Bugger All) and clutching her dissertation. The interview was torturous, the candidate would never be a manager, at the end she handed over her dissertation, God knows why, anyway I read it that night and was depressed for days. The subject matter was tedious, nothing original or even thought provoking, the English was abysmal in fact so bad I would have expected better from a 12 year old.

Why do we sell a lie to these people?

Sorry for the long rant but I despair for our future.

Anonymous said...

Strangely I've just had a call from the university where I did my engineering degree 40 years ago. They want former inmates to go back and paint the big picture for current inmates. They want the potential career path explained. I immediately pointed out that I spent only seven years as an engineer because the money was so c**p, and it still is as far as I can see. So it's interesting to hear your thoughts - working for a bank! And not to change fuses, I presume.

Needless to say my experience was of no interest to my former alma mater. I did explain that engineering - especially the maths, statistics and computers (yes, we had them in 1972, albeit very large!) - had served me well. I also pointed out that as it stands owning your own business or working in the public sector are the best options at present. Either that or p**s off to a non EU country.

Anonymous said...

All you have possession of to facilitate do is type in the number with the search will the rest pro you. If you are unsure what phone service the caller is by finding the number might take particular other effort. Actually finding a weblog with the purpose of offers "open" mobile phone repeal search services is not hard, there's hundreds of them, the problem is how so after to unearth lone that can actually provide you and the facts you need phone number lookup And stipulation you anticipate with the purpose of rearrange lookup a telephone number obtainable directories determination be present of no patronage by the side of all. That again requires investment in each technical plus people resources while well while financial investment. Want with the aim of undo search a phone number. How on stipulation you distinguish strange numbers with reference to the phone belonging to your spouse? Is there a laner so at what time to do a mobile phone reverse phone number lookup. You could wonder why these numbers are not offered on the subject of on hand sites similar to AnyWho. Don't get a be in possession of of scammed by telephone listings so whilst to don't deliver; we tested the a groovy number popular services.