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Even if Hong Kong blue-collar jobs pay more and are easier to land, university degrees are still worth the effort

  • Tertiary education makes us more readily adaptable to our field of work, reducing stress and increasing the diversity of work we can handle
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2018, 7:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2018, 7:03pm

I write in response to the letter from John Yau (“Is a degree still worth the time and money for Hong Kong students, when blue-collar jobs can pay more?”, October 1).

Mr Yau argued that a university student might earn less than someone in a blue-collar job, which increases the attractiveness of these jobs due to a higher and steadier income. Moreover, he also pointed out that when university students are fighting over knowledge-based jobs with their expensive university degrees, the shortage of blue-collar jobs means less competition for those in that sector, making blue-collar work a more reasonable career choice.

Although the reasoning above is flawless, Mr Yau’s analysis fails to consider other important factors concerning the long-term consequences of such choices.

First, the high demand for blue-collar jobs may prompt corporations to adopt more technical know-how into their businesses to increase future productivity. Take street cleaners, for example. As technology advances and people desire a higher quality of life, hiring people to sweep the streets may no longer be feasible. Technology will have to replace street sweepers in the future.

Second, knowledge is as important as experience and can help us excel at whatever jobs we take up more easily, increasing our efficiency and competitiveness. In acquiring knowledge, we are actually also improving some of our skills. Tertiary education would make us more readily adaptable to our field of work, reducing stress and increasing the diversity of work we can handle.

In the long run, a university degree is still worth it

Lastly, knowledge-based jobs would provide a higher income than blue-collar jobs in the long term, as these jobs help us grow wiser as we age and earn the respect of society. This is why many students want to earn a university degree, instead of taking on jobs that often involve brute force and repetition. Knowledge-based jobs are more influential and interesting overall; so teenagers are attracted to a university degree for the right reasons. I do believe university degrees are worth the effort.

Kadan Lam, Tai Wai