How much is an education worth?

3:41 pm Blogroll

What is the value of an education


Have you ever thought about how your education relates directly to the amount of money in your pay packet every month? Well there has been some research conducted in the UK which directly quantifies the earning capacity of those with certain qualifications.

Specifically, the research suggests that those people who pass 5 GCSEs will earn over £1 million during the course of a lifetime, while those who have not passed 5 GSCEs will not earn that much.

How does this translate into a Hong Kong context?  In the local education system, GSCEs are considered an equivalent to the HKCEE.  Would it be true to say that those with 5 passes at HKCEE are likely to earn over $HKD 15 million, in a life time?  I guess it is likely that this is true.  However I think the reasons have less to do with qualification of the HKCEE (or the GCSE) itself and more to do with the potential that the qualification holds.

Those people with 5 passes in HKCEE (or with 5 GCSEs) usually don’t leave their education at that point.  5 subjects passed at HKCEE means that students will generally be able to go on to form 6.  A large percentage of students who go into form 6, subsequently go on to do some type of post- secondary education.  Those who have not passed the five subjects generally have little chance of studying beyond form five.  Instead, these students usually leave their education and look for work.  The sorts of jobs available to those without a good pass at HKCEE level tend to be low skilled, low paid jobs – the types of jobs in which earning a large amount of money (such as £ 1 million or $HKD 15 million) is unlikely.

There is a reason why people in Hong Kong shouldn’t despair if they haven’t got 5 passes at the Certificate level. In Hong Kong, the tradition of lifelong learning is well established and a lot of people who begin their working life after form five because they are unable to continue with secondary school, usually find themselves in some form of study later in life.  Of course, the reason why lifelong learning has become such a strong part of the working culture here is that it does have a noticeable effect on your pay packet.  Many employers reward those who persevere with study, whether it is through promotion or some other means.

So, is it worth pursuing those GCSEs (or local equivalents)? Of course it is.  Without them, you are certainly more likely to begin your working life on a lower salary than those people who have passed their HKCEE or GCSEs.  And if you do pass form 5, the chances of you being able to continue your studies are very good.  But there is always adult education and lifelong learning is a common and accepted part of the local workforce.


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