Degrees of Waste

Essay by TooT January 2008

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When it comes to course selection, how many of us would be crazy enough to even consider a Bachelor of Art? If you walk down any university career fair, it would be extremely rare to see a school promoting its BA program. Why is this? It is because of the useless nature of liberal arts degrees. But not everyone thinks so. Pat Morden, an editor of a university magazine, wrote an article stating her wonderful experience with liberal arts and how she believes that it is a good long-term investment. Unlike her, I believe liberal arts education is a completely waste of time and money for the students and a waste of productivity for the country.

Pat Morden’s claim that liberal arts are wise investments with long-term gains is not only misleading, but it is also very irresponsible. Liberals arts education does not lead to specialization which is one thing that is needed badly in Canada.

In a knowledge-based economy, a strong workforce and specialization are crucial to stay competitive in the international market. Why is this? It is because specialized degrees such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, biochemical engineering, statistics, and international law increase the overall workforce capacity which in turn leads to higher efficiency and productivity. In recent years, Canada has lagged behind in productivity. In 1960, Canada was third among OECD nations in terms of productivity level, but now, Canada stands at a mere 17th place. Also, during 2004 and 2005, productivity growth lagged behind the gains in 21 of the 23 OECD nations. Furthermore, Canada’s business-sector output-per-hour growth of 2.8% a year between 1996 and 2000 dropped to 0.9% between 2000 and 2004. In contrast, labour productivity in the U.S. has risen at a robust 3.5% average annual rate since 2000, resulting in a very...