Random thoughts on education and training
Conversations with me can leave some feeling perplexed. There was your warning. Today's random thoughts are about education. I want to start by saying that I love learning. I love teaching. I love everything about learning and teaching but that does not necessarily mean that I agree with our standards for education. I mean this for both adults and children, but this hub is going to be about adults.
In the recent years, a college education has become a prerequisite for any and almost every entry level position and I am completely against that. Am I biased? I guess, if you look hard enough, you will be able to find some biasses as I am human and we are all biased in some way. I have a bachelors and can easily attain my masters. I continue to choose not too. My views are not biased by a lack of a degree. They may be biased because of my family though. My father comes from a generation where many children were forced to abandon school in order to start earning their keep. This was normal and essential for the family's survival, especially if you were a boy. In my father's case, he left grade school to help support his family. His work ethics are stronger than anyone that I can think of in my generation (myself included!). He is a wonderful, visionary craftsman who has not been able to find work with benefits in years because of his lack of education. My mother had a longer school life. Because of her own life's path, she was also employed before achieving a high school diploma. She did get it, when she could. In the mean time, her dedication and work ethic earned her promotions that would eventually lead her to a staff accountants position in a then multimillion dollar company where she worked for about 20 years before they closed their doors. Since then, she relocated and was forced into early retirement after being rejected from book keeping and clerk positions because she had no degree. Now years later, after loosing her retirement savings to a stock market crash and having her home value drop she will be forced back out into the workforce. Here you have 2 people who are workaholics and have great skills and dedication. These 2 people are examples of the thousands of people who get dismissed, overlooked, and rejected because of their lack of 'education'. I fear that this can add to the downfall of business as we know it.
Colleges are businesses. They are not a right of passage or a status symbol. They are not a good measure of someone's mental fortitude or capabilities. Basically, I pay the bill and put forth as little effort as it takes to pass and you will give me the degree that I seek. Classes are designed to be taught from a book with tests that can be passed with simple, temporary memorization skills. Most subjects are not even used in the work place. Virtually all candidates require on the job training to complete their occupational tasks regardless of grade point average or major. Are there benefits to education? Of coarse there are! For those that go straight to college, there are social benefits. A young person can learn about time management, focus, and dedication. It is an opportunity to learn very useful research and problem solving skills. It also helps develop more mature interpersonal relationship skills. All these things help to mold a better employee, but not compared to one who has a proven track record already. Truth be told, having a degree should not be used as a screening tool for non-licensed entry level positions at all.
Allow me to give you an example of what I see everyday. Since a college degree is a requirement, all applicants without a degree are immediately dismissed no matter their experience, proven work ethics, or established loyalty patterns. Now we have only candidates that meet the requirement. For most common jobs, the degree could be in anything at all. This proves that the skills learned during their stint in college is of no importance. One vital piece of information (the GPA) is rarely used or verified. So, lets say you have 2 candidates with the same degree. A company does not get the information about how much time and effort was put in to achieve the degree, what the grades where, how many courses were failed and retaken, or how long it took a candidate to finish. Now there is a person who just barely made it through college getting an opportunity for a position before a mature, established worker.
How will this mean the downfall of business? Turnover equals more expenses. Today, small businesses have suffered tremendously in our economy. Larger, more established companies are still with us, but have been struggling to cut costs to make up for lost profits. Investing funds into the wrong candidate costs any company, big or small, a lot of valuable time and money. Younger generation graduates have been known to be less loyal. They are more likely to leave a company to accept an offer for more money elsewhere. I am not claiming that companies should avoid young graduates at all. Not all young graduates have issues with loyalty just like not all mature workers without degrees are dedicated workaholics. What I am saying is that I see a problem with making a degree a mandatory requirement for entry level positions. It is closely related to a form of discrimination in my eyes. The term age discrimination comes to mind when I think about the members of the generations before us who were not fortunate enough to go to college. There was a time, not long ago, when college was for the rich. It was not even an unattainable goal for most families since college was for a certain class of people. If you weren't a member of that class, you didn't even have the goal. That brings me to another form of discrimination. Even today, with all the loans and programs, there are a group of people who can not financially afford to go to college.
I am going to wrap this up since I can obviously keep going. This creates a huge population of what I call underdogs. A large percentage of underdogs, when given the opportunity, have been known to shine. In gratitude, these particular underdogs tend to be more loyal, more dedicated, and harder working than their degreed counterparts. I have been able to train and see one underdog reach the productivity level of 3 workers. Workaholics exist in both the degreed and non-degreed world. Proper screening helps companies get closer to the right candidate. I feel by alienating and overlooking all non-degreed candidates for entry level positions, companies are doing themselves a disservice and are practicing a form of discrimination that has not yet been identified or labeled.
Did you know that large number of the largest companies today were founded/owned or currently have CEO's who do not have college degrees?
- Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to create his legacy
- David Oreck - Oreck Vacuum Cleaners
- Michael Dell - CEO Dell
- John Paul DeJoria - CEO of John Paul Mitchell Hair Care
- Richard Branson - Virgin Group (Virgin Records)
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