A discrepancy between student professions and field of study poses a danger to the future of higher education, said MK Boaz Toporovsky (Yesh Atid), chairman of the Lobby for Students and Higher Education, on Tuesday.
He made these remarks during a Knesset discussion, as part of National Student Day, on the future of employment among students and academics in Israel.
According to Toporovsky, following a year of “good news,” which saw an increase in the budget for higher education and millions towards new student dormitories, the lobby decided to dedicate the day to the discussion of student employment.
“There is no doubt that there is a large discrepancy between the student’s field of study and the area of employment. The Lobby for Students and Higher Education started a process during which we will reexamine and bring a change in all that relates to adjusting professions for students and providing suitable employment on the horizon,” said Toporovsky.
President-elect Reuven Rivlin addressed the issue in his opening remarks and said the future leaders of the State of Israel are today’s university and college students.
“I hope the day will come when we will be like the Scandinavian countries, capable of supporting their students and providing them with all their needs so they may focus on their studies,” he said.
Deputy Finance Minister MK Miki Levy voiced the same sentiment, saying today’s students are the future of the economy and the workforce. Levy hailed the efforts of Finance Minister Yair Lapid in addressing the housing crisis and reducing the cost of living.
During the conference, several statistics were presented regarding student employment.
According to a Knesset Research and Information Center report presented during the discussion, 67 percent of students, as of March 2012, were employed. A comparison of universities and colleges indicated the proportion of working students in universities stood at 61%, while at government-funded colleges this figure stood at 60% and at non-funded colleges 75%.
Additional data presented during the conference, taken from the Central Bureau of Statistics 2013 Social Survey, indicated 28.2% of people with a university degree said there is little, if any correlation between their subject of study and their actual employment.
The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) also presented data that indicated students fail to support themselves during their first degree, and of those who do not work, 79% claim they do not work due to a lack of time.
“Israel has a responsibility and a duty to encourage pursuing higher education at a young age and promoting solutions that will enable students to work in parallel to their studies.
The price of neglect today will affect the economy of tomorrow,” said Ori Reshtick, chairman of the NUIS.
Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, chairman of the Council for Higher Education’s Planning and Budgeting Committee said he expected employers to provide opportunities for students without a lot of experience.
Trajtenberg called for “encouraging the integration of students in fields of study required in the labor market” and acting to facilitate this integration.