In My Opinion: Emma Crichton: University or an uncertain jobs market?

IN less than a year, I will be hopefully graduating with a HND in Practical Journalism and a diploma from the journalism training scheme, the NCTJ.

I was never one of those lucky people who knew what career they wanted when they were still in nappies.

I chose to study journalism when I got a bit too old for my childhood dreams – to be a famous actress/singer or an ice cream van driver – to be humoured.

During most of my High School years, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I left school.

I resorted to studying a range of different subjects, focusing on what I was good at.

Finally, after countless meetings with my guidance teacher and careers advisor, it was decided that my ‘way with words’, as it was put, combined with a keen interest in Modern Studies and current affairs, would be put to best use in journalism.

I’ve been told several times that having the prestigious NCTJ qualifications on my CV will help me get a job in journalism but, unless journalists in Scotland are going to retire in droves the day I qualify, I’m not sure where this promised job is going to appear from.

The 50 per cent nationwide pass rate for NCTJ exams doesn’t fill me with confidence either. Mine begin in April.

The thought of qualifying and being thrown into the big, bad world without a job is so daunting that I’m considering something I never thought I would: university.

After spending most of my teenage years being pelted with exam after exam, the idea of spending at least another four years studying didn’t appeal to me. So when I looked into the HND at Cardonald, and realised it would only take two years, I decided it was perfect for me.

Now in my second year, my final exams are looming and the thought of becoming a proper adult, with proper adult responsibilities has terrified me into looking at uni courses.

It’s not that I don’t want to grow up, I’m not living in a Peter Pan fantasy thinking I can jump from course to course, living with daddy for the rest of my life.

No. But with job cuts in the media and journalists now expected to be sub-editors, camera crew and whatever else you can think of, I want to be as qualified as possible so that, when the time comes, I’m prepared to fight the stiff competition for a job and in turn, have the skills I need to do the job.

I know I’m not the only one worried about this.

In September last year, when the college course started, only a handful of my classmates were using the HND as a path into university. Just over a year later, the number of people on the course has halved and now most of my classmates are considering putting the job hunt on hold to stay in education.

If I went back to school tomorrow, I’d find my guidance teacher and thank her for pointing me in the direction of journalism. She was ‘right on the money’.

If spending longer studying is what it takes to be a successful journalist in the long run, so be it.

As cliché as it sounds, if you want to do something enough, you have to be prepared to put the effort in.

Emma Crichton is in her second year of a two-year HND in Practical Journalism.