Friday, January 19, 2018
What College's Fear Most - Corporate Training Programs
It was before my time, but like "nickelodeons," "World War I," and "dinosaurs I was reliably informed about an equally extinct phenomenon from America's days' past.
"Corporate training programs."
You see, apparently, waaaaaay back in the day, corporations and employers would hire you, often times fresh out of high school, mayhaps even before and then, and...
No, really you have to sit down.
No, honestly, this is going to floor you!!! )
then they'd TRAIN YOU in the job you were hired to do!
I know! Who knew! Those crazy old people with their antiquated ways and walking uphill both ways to school!
Anyway, apparently what ended up happening was about the time the baby boomers took over corporate America they realized that instead of training people for specific tasks, they would instead simply require you have more education in a field that was at best tangentially related to the specific duties that would be required of the job. So if they needed a credit analyst they would require somebody have a degree in finance. If they needed some one to manage a fish store, they'd require a business degree. And if they needed a computer system administrator, they'd require a degree in computer engineering.
Now, you might be asking, "Captain, well those degrees are pretty general and not specific enough to help do any one particular job. Even if I had a business degree, I would still need to learn a little bit about fish and their fish like ways. Wouldn't these new baby boomer bosses, you know, still have to train you in a little bit?"
And you would think so Younger Generation American. But you see, the baby boomers had two solutions to that problem!
"Steep learning curve."
"I don't have time to hold your hand!"
And thus with those two mere phrases, combined with requiring you spend 4 years earning a degree, they completely outsourced all their training expenses, ne'er having to spend another cent training their actual employees.
Of course, employee loyalty tanked. You had to start employing the other half to make ends meet in an American family budget. Not to mention every Gen X'er and Millennial want to kill pretty much ALL baby boomer bosses, but you see what REALLY mattered was that baby boomer bosses didn't have to actually, you know, like "manage" their employees and could just sit in meetings all day kissing ass for promotion.
This lasted for about 40 years and certainly is still heavily practiced today (as most baby boomers didn't adequately save for retirement and have to work well past 70 asking us younger people how to use Excel as we pay for their social security). But some interesting things happened over those 40 years.
First an educational arms race occurred where an increasing percent of the population was required to get an increasing (and unnecessary) amount of education for entry level positions. And so whereas a job in 1950 required a high school diploma, that same job required an associates in 1980, a bachelors in 1990, and a masters in 2010. This manifested itself in the "Masters Preferred" phrase that was typically used in conjunction with "Steep learning curve" and "I don't know how to use Excel." Never mind a young man or woman was now required to spend an extra 6 years in school and $125,000 on post-high school education, it was more important the future generations cripple themselves financially so baby boomer bosses didn't have to pay for training or get their hands dirty actually managing.
Second, there was something happening at the actual schools. Since there was an educational arms race occurring, demand for degrees shot up. Baby boomers, always deathly afraid of Excel, found this a win win. Not only would they require younger generations get completely unnecessary degrees, but they would also be the professors who would teach (and also charge $250 per credit) for those degrees. This worked for a while until two variables became so critical it actually destroyed the value of degrees, no matter how much the baby boomer bosses demanded them in the real world.
1. The cost of tuition got too high (both in terms of time and money).
2. The quality of the students graduating with masters degrees were of poor quality, unable to meet the demands of the real world.
Enter the internet.
By all accounts and measures colleges should have been replaced long ago with online certifications by the government where you could simply test for your "finance degree" or "HR degree" much like IT and computer professionals test for their certifications. It would have saved Gen X and Millennials trillions, but remember, baby boomers who have nightmares about Excel and inadequate retirement savings need to keep this obsolete facade up so they may parasite off of their beloved future. But no matter how much they controlled the economy, no matter how much they lied to their children, inevitably newer industries led by smarter people would come along, obsolete them, usurp their power, and implement a more efficient and moral way to train in the younger generations.
And thus we have come full circle where increasing number of companies are offering...
(get ready for it!!!!!)
Sprouts and saplings of training programs have existed more or less for the past 15 years. More Millennials and certainly Gen Z'ers learn MUCH MORE from YouTube than they did all their teachers, parents, and professors combined in 17 years of schooling. Online and free colleges, or at least educational opportunities are forming in the form of EdX, Coursera, and bootcamps. And even accredited online colleges exist now that charge 1/3rd the price of tuition for an increasing number of degrees (not to mention, void of parking fees, commuting, waking up at 8AM, and $400 textbooks!) The internet has made training so cheap, and the baby boomers made traditional education such an absolute EXPENSIVE and psycho-sh!tshow, sanity is once again prevailing in the labor market and corporations are bringing back training.
I know this ancient and outdated phenomenon - like the nuclear family, 4.25% average GDP growth, masculine men, feminine women, and all things from the 1950's - is evil. And I know that Millennials and Gen Z'ers view "the college experience" more of a birthrighted party, which if taken away would be about the worst thing that could happen in your ignorant unwise eyes. But if we were to be logical about this, think it through, and ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT FUTURE GENERATIONS, we could do away with forcing every young person to waste 6 years of their youth and $150,000 in unnecessary expenses if we just fully embraced online education and brought back the "corporate training program."
Aaron Clarey is an economist, and yes, he's right. If you'd like to read more of Aaron's cool stuff, or just check out his podcast or some of his books, click on the links below!
Books by Aaron