Time Travel is Here - sort of.

Published 03/15/2021
 
6 Months = 4 years?
 
 
For the last several generations, college was the gateway to the good life. High schools started offering fewer and fewer “shop classes”. Home Ec was a relic of the past, and college prep was the only post high school career path that any school counselor wanted to talk about.
 
And why not? College was (relatively) affordable, promised at least four years reprieve from the old 9 to 5 grind, and was a way to avoid standing next to your Father on an assembly line. At one time, college could even save you from going to war.
 
Then, the “industrial revolution” started shedding the “industrial” component and began an inevitable evolution into the digital age. This resulted in an even greater need for a college degree. Probably not unexpectedly, universities saw that they were in the drivers’ seat, and in just over 30 years (or one generation), the average cost of attending a four-year college or university in the U.S. rose by 497% (double the rate of inflation). Even community colleges got in on the fun, increasing their costs at a rate a third higher than the average four-year school. The result? The average 2019 college grad is shouldering $30,062 in debt. Not to be left unaffected, via parent PLUS loans, Moms and Dads owe nearly $90 billion dollars in student loans (averaging $16,100 based on 2104 data – the most recent available).
 
 
All of this leads us to the year the world changed. It sounds like a 1950s Sci Fi movie, but it’s all too real. Of all the major changes wrought by 2020 and the pandemic, few have as far-reaching consequences as those impacting our educational system. In a perfect storm of events and circumstances, school buildings sat empty, learning went virtual, and anyone with stock in zoom made out pretty well (their stock surged 425%in 2020).
 
Although grade schools, junior high and high schools are anticipating a return to the status quo, colleges and universities are worried. Suddenly, many would-be students are wondering if the cost of tuition and housing (especially housing) is worth it. They have a year of higher ed under their belts and they, for the most part, didn’t leave home to do it.
 
The paradigm shift gets greater when they factor in the realization that much of what they will be paying for has little to no ROI in the outside world. The old trope of a “well-rounded education” becomes less and less viable as the demands of the job market call for specialization and technical skills.
 
In the midst of all this upheaval, enter Google and Career Certification program. Suddenly, instead of the expense of a four-year education, Google, through its Coursera program will provide a certificate in a much sought-after field for $240 and get you done in 6 months.
 
Sure, but who’s going to accept their “Google Certificates”? Well, Google has partnerships with more than 130 employers who have signed on to higher the graduates as they become available.
 
Google’s plan also includes:
·      The release of three new Google Career Certificates on Coursera in project management, data analytics, and user experience (UX) design
·      A new Associate Android Developer Certification course
·      Over 100,000 need-based scholarships
·      A new Google Search feature that makes it easier for people to find jobs for their education level, including no degree and no experience
 
There are 340,500 U.S. job openings in IT and a $50,800 average entry-level salary in IT support, so there will be no shortage of people looking to get into the new technology job market. Of course, Google isn’t going it alone. Major universities and companies, as well as community colleges are partnering with Google to offer these courses.
 
Is this the death knell for colleges and universities? Obviously not. However, as the year 2020 has demonstrated, there is a seismic shift happening in the workplace and the world of higher education. Certificate programs such as Coursera offer the hope of good paying jobs for a big segment of the population that sees a traditional college education to be out of their reach. As more and more companies accept third-party certifications or hybrid options coming from college and business partnerships, the availability of much needed qualified tech workers will grow.
 
It’s a pretty interesting world we’re looking at in the years ahead. Our professionals at ASN are staying on top of these changes so, no matter what, we will be positioned to provide our clients with qualified talent when you need it. If you would like to discuss these issues further, we would love to talk with you.