The Australian government recently decided to increase university fees for humanities degrees and reduce them for science-related degrees. They refer to this strategy as “picking winners”.

Meant to help solve the very real skills shortage in STEM functions, this strategy has several flaws.

1. Skills required by employers will shift numerous times over the next decade, so training in a particular niche may have a limited shelf life and may actually under prepare workers for longevity.

2. Choosing a degree based on cost rather than aptitude and interest will breed yet another generation of dis-engaged workers – which costs companies dearly in lost productivity.

3. Some humanities-related degrees teach people how to think and solve problems. This is one of the top four skills required in this next decade – regardless of the function.

While addressing the skills shortage problem from an educational perspective isn’t a bad idea, communication and information would prove to be much more effective than bribery.

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