Although it’s a cliché to mention the percentage of English majors who are working as Starbucks baristas, the point is still valid. 44% of recent college graduates work in a job that does not require a degree. Higher education must be missing something. The question is simple but the answer is not.
What can be learned from the years or months between graduation and the first “big-kid job”?
It doesn’t make sense to start bright and eager for a career only to find yourself in a low-wage job or to service student loans worth tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Colleges offer fast-track degrees, internships, externships, co-ops, and many other options. Why is there still a gap in education and employment?
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The most recent trends will help you see the bigger picture. Some of the basic truths you believed were true previously may not be so. The word “education” might not be sufficient to describe the range of skills and knowledge one must have in order to succeed in a professional setting.
What are they looking for?
Education has been about being well-rounded. It’s about learning how to communicate that knowledge to others, developing critical thinking skills and researching to prove a set of assumptions. These soft skills are not a direct result of education but are a side effect.
“To be able teach is to be taught”
These soft skills are more in demand than the knowledge that is at the core of a person’s major or degree. These skills are also an indicator of a potential employee’s flexibility. To be able teach is to be taught. It’s a reflection of one’s ability learn new technologies and processes quickly. These are “intangible” and cannot be proved on the job so it takes longer to get a recent graduate to where they want to be.
It also reduces the risk and cost of a company trying to find new employees by transferring the responsibility onto “sub-degree” employers. Education does not eliminate the possibility that someone doesn’t have these soft skills.
Education vs. training
Training is the other side of this coin. It should be done in a practical, not theoretical way. The demand for technical skills has increased, despite the growth in soft skills. According to Upwork’s recent study, technical skills can double the number of job opportunities. This is something we see all the time, without even realizing it. The unbundling and creation of micro-credentials allows for a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of applicants.
Technical skills can double the number of job opportunities available.
Noted by UpworkA MBA is a high-level, theoretically sound degree that is invaluable in any business setting. You’d be hard-pressed to find them without work or in high demand for multiple generations. This is still true, but it’s not the magic bullet it used to be.
An MBA will now ask, “How do I manage and optimize in a technology driven workplace if I don’t have the technical skills?”
“Degrees are not static – The job market changes constantly”
Although they may have 6 years of soft skills, without technical skills it becomes abstract and even academic. These new realities lead to an unavoidable truth: degrees, while valuable, are not guaranteed employment.
The truth is that degrees are not static. The job market is dynamic. While degrees can be buried in the walls of their owners, true credentials- which are skills that are used, augmented, and scaled- need constant validation.
Degrees are subject to new expiration dates due to the rapid pace of industry change. The most in-demand jobs today didn’t exist a decade ago. Your job, responsibilities, roles, and duties are constantly changing. A degree is a proof of your knowledge, but micro-credentials and real skills are what show you how to manage them.
The key question is: How do you create a plan for education and credentialing?
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