momopi wrote:The basic value of a college degree, like many other things in life, is dependent on supply and demand.
Back when it was difficult to pass the national college entrance exam, getting a college education was a big deal in East Asian countries. If you graduated from a national college, it means good job, good career, and good marriage prospects.
Moving forward to the 1990s, in Taiwan the government de-regulated the college system, and many trade schools converted to 4-year colleges. Suddenly there was an over-supply of college-educated workforce. So now you have to go abroad and get a master's degree to be ahead of others. Having a 4-year college degree is now a basic requirement for many jobs, just like the US.
China is about 20 years behind TW, back in 1989 only 2% of HS students went to college, which made the Tienanmen Square protest a far bigger impact on China's leadership and society than western countries, where college education was more prevalent. But today in China there's a large surplus of college educated workforce, so college education no longer guaranteed a good life.
If you want to improve the value of a college degree, you make it harder to obtain and reduce the number of college-educated workforce. If you disagree with the current college education subjects and think the solution is to simply change it, that will not alter the fundamental supply and demand valuation. Lowering the barriers to higher education produces a benefit, but that benefit is not without cost. Like they say freedom is not free and there is no free lunch. If you're not paying upfront, you'd pay for it later.
Speaking as a former 5th grade teacher, I think the US education system is too easy. Parents use schools as a babysitting service, dumping >30 kids per teacher and hope for the best. Duh? IMO secondary schools should teach more practical skills like how to drive a truck, fix a computer, balance your checkbook, negotiate contracts, home-making, cooking, and so on. We also need better apprenticeship program for professional trade and craftsman. In France and Japan, becoming a chef is a lengthy process from school to apprenticeship. In the US we pump out sushi chefs after 6 months from California Sushi Academy. If you ever wonder why the local sushi place prefer to sell maki, it's because the guy lacks the skill to make good nigiri.
Itamae-san (master chef) training for sushi chefs
Traditional sushi-chef training takes about 10 years of instruction under a master. In old days the apprentice enters at high school age, and if proven to have talent, becomes a chef by mid 20â€™s. These days the apprentice usually start after high school (unless family restaurant) and the length of apprenticeship may be shorter, but it still take years to become a good chef.
An apprentice (minarai) starts by doing basic kitchen chores and learn by observation for few years. After a while he is taught how to gut fish and cook sushi rice properly. If he doesnâ€™t exhibit any decent skills, this is where heâ€™d stay, with pay below or equal to the serving staff. This is also where youâ€™d find the restaurant ownerâ€™s friendâ€™s kid and the daughterâ€™s boyfriend/husband with no job skills, washing rice in the back and kept out of the customerâ€™s view.
If the apprentice shows skill, he is allowed to work in the front as shimoita (â€�below the boardâ€�), an assistant to the sushi chef. This stage typically take 3 years, where heâ€™d learn how to use various Sashimi hōchō & other knives properly. Knife skill is very important as it impacts the quality and texture of the nigiri. At this stage the apprentice is not allowed to make sushi for the customer without supervision, though he could make other stuff that require less skill, such as cut rolls and hand rolls. At this stage he is paid at or above the serverâ€™s wages.
If the student chef is good enough, heâ€™s promoted to nakaita (â€�middle boardâ€�) where he is allowed to make sushi for the customers without supervision. At this stage he is paid about twice the serverâ€™s wages or better. The skill level of chefs at this stage can vary widely, from barely acceptable to very good. Foreign sushi chefs who didnâ€™t receive â€œproper trainingâ€� but learned through years of experience may be evaluated at nakaita level by their Japanese peers.
A properly trained nakaita, after years of experiences, may attain the status of Itamae-San. A popular master chef can make 6 figures from salary and tips, and get a cut from the sushi barâ€™s daily bill. At this stage he may also open his own sushi bar and train apprentice.
Excellent post. And I agree that we need to bring back apprenticeship. I learned my trade from a man and I then when off on my own and started my own business. I now want to learn another skill, just for fun, and that would be building race engines but I digress.