College isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, education should be better aligned to outcomes, and companies need to invest in talent early.
These are the truths hammered home by Adam Enbar, co-founder and president of Flatiron School, in his recent article Three Hard Truths That Will Save Higher Education. His point is to tackle a nasty mismatch between what employers need (more computer and tech skills) and what job seekers have to offer (not enough of those skills). To close the gap, Enbar argues, everyone should embrace the realities above and together adapt to the growing demand for skilled talent.
But here’s the magic of Enbar’s truths. They aren’t just keys to the solution to a tech know-how shortfall. They are keys to the solution to the much, much bigger problems of student loan debt (currently topping $1 trillion), the fact that students throw time and money away on degrees with little to no return on investment, and the fact that young graduates are unqualified for their dream careers because they didn’t know what to study for while companies hunt desperately for the appropriate talent.
It’s not just a higher education problem. It’s a student-business-higher education problem. Here’s how Enbar’s truths come to the rescue.
Hard Truth #1. “It’s painfully obvious that a one-size-fits-all, ‘college for everyone’ approach isn’t working.”
The “just go to college” mentality is punching us straight in the breadbasket. Yes, most of the best-paying careers demand at least a bachelor’s degree, but a fancy diploma in and of itself can’t promise you a better job and it can frequently promise you an obscene amount of debt. Unfortunately, colleges are often all too quick to hand out loans to students who haven’t even had a credit card before and simply don’t know the consequences around the corner.
So step one: Colleges, educate your incoming students about the truth of the loans they’re taking on: 44% of debt-burdened graduates cut back on life, 37% delay saving for retiring or other financial goals, and 14% are forced to change careers.
And students, don’t assume you can sail into college without a compass. Have a plan. Which leads me to the next hard truth….
Hard Truth #2. “There’s a disconnect between the skills and knowledge that colleges believe they’re providing and the actual outcome of that education: only 11% of business leaders perceive college graduates to be ready for work.”
Like I said, most people go to college because they believe it will help them get better jobs. But turns out, most of college graduates aren’t ready for work. What can be done?
Colleges need to align programs to the developing needs of the workforce (What are the growing careers? Where is talent actually needed?) and provide better counsel for students thoughtlessly signing up for that psych degree because it “sounds interesting” (but what will they DO with it?).
But program alignment at hundreds of colleges across the nation requires takes time, so for now, the most important task is up to students themselves. Before going to college, have a plan. Set your career goals so you know the education you need, how long it’ll take, and how much it costs. Also, consider the wages of your dream career. How quickly will your future salary allow you to pay off your loans? Is the debt manageable? Will it be worth it in the end? Remember the old maxim: Most people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.
Hard Truth #3. “Companies that recognize the value in investing in talent early on will gain a competitive advantage.”
How can companies invest in talent early? By getting in touch with students while they’re still in high school, providing internships for those that possess the interests and/or skills you’re looking for.
Young workers of America already have strong ideas of who the best companies are and where they want to work. What attracts them is not just the prestige of a particular company, but the opportunities for personal and professional growth and a strong relationship of trust and loyalty with their employers. Build those relationships now.
Let’s Get to Work: “These three truths…will help ensure education once again becomes the best investment anyone can make.”
Here at Find Your Calling, we’ve zeroed in on these three issues. We dedicate ourselves to helping students set career goals and education strategies and working with companies to discover the high school students that will one day make valuable employees so that when the college graduate receives that fancy diploma, they won’t be drowning in debt, they’re equipped for a career they love, and employers stand ready to hire.
This won’t take five years. It won’t even take two. All it takes is Find Your Calling.