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!
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evilwhitemalempire said...

My take on this:

Businesses had training programs.
When the GI Bill happened more people started going to college.
So businesses dropped their training programs to save money.
But as the decades rolled on college standards were increasingly lowered to get more tuition paying 'customers' while the tuitions steadily increased in order to milk those 'customers' for all they can get.
Eventually it becomes clear to businesses that college graduates are no longer a reliable talent pool.
So they bring back training programs.

A Texan said...

My Mom still at least buys the Sunday local newspaper. Sometimes, I know this is weird, but I browse the obituaries to see dates and what kind of lives these people may have lived.

One that stood out to me was a man who came back from WWII, started working at the local refinery in the warehouse, then the lab, and then progressively higher positions until he retired. I was like wow!, where are these places anymore?

My oldest uncle from my dad's side, could speak three languages: English, Czech, and Spanish all without a damn degree! It served him well as parts counter salesman in South Texas. How many college graduates in any field can do that?

George said...

Hi Aaron ... love yer blog but really must you blame *everything* on us boomers [[ I was born in 1954 ]] ???

The REAL reason for so-called "credential inflation" is our beloved SCOTUS ... altho come to think of it they're all boomers too so maybe you should be blaming us

See =>

Anonymous said...

Actually what happened was once upon a time companies gave employees "aptitude tests", more or less IQ tests, to identify the sharpest tacks in the box to be given the opportunity to move up. For example, if you were a GM production line worker, you could take the aptitude test and if you did well you'd get sent to GM's engineering school. This practice was going on for most of the 20th century until in the late 60s a guy who failed the aptitude test with a power utility claimed racial discrimination and got a favorable judgement.

More suits followed and by the late 70s aptitude tests were falling out of favor because it was causing more grief than it was worth. That left only one other way to have a reasonable assurance that someone was reasonably intelligent before you took them on - a degree. Over time it became a basic requirement. Oddly the reverse is happening now in the IT world.. what you've done in the last 3 or 4 years counts for far more than a degree and it's possible to go far without one.

grey enlightenment said...

I think advanced degrees are being used as a sort of implicit IQ test to measure skill-specific attainability, too.

Daniel Svoboda said...

I totally agree with you on the training program. I was literally given no training or direction for jobs when I started in corporate America. I even had to teach myself programming on my own as my college didn't even teach it for computer engineering! I've been hooked now to training sites like udemy, udacity and packtpub. I suspect these sites were setup as complaints about training became so deafening that some entrepreneurs created these training sites to provide the practical experience that companies never would.

I would suggest others get on the bandwagon and create more online training sites so that they would have students swamp these sites, thereby bankrupting the corrupt college rackets.

Eeler said...

Cap it was affirmative action that killed off corporate training programs. Boeing used to give aptitude tests to factory floor workers and train the best to be engineers. As you can imagine whites were more often chosen than blacks due to the IQ difference between races. Blacks cried discrimination and sued Boeing so they dropped the program and pushed the training to colleges and other corporations followed suit.

George said...

CORRECTION .... in my post of 6:28 AM supra , I stated of the SCOTUS Justices , "... they're all boomers too..."

Given that the Boomers were born from 1946-1964, then in fact Kennedy [1936] Ginsberg [1933] & Breyer [1938] are all members of the "Silent Generation" [i.e. 1925-45]; and Gorsuch [1967] is a Gen X'er

Also, the SCOTUS decision in question --Griggs v. Duke Power 401 U.S. 424-- was decided in 1971, seventeen years before the longest-serving current Justice [Kennedy] was sworn in

That case was decided 8-0 with Brennan recused; the decision was written by Chief Justice Burger [b. 1907] while the other seven Justices were born between 1886 & 1917. The youngest [Byron White] was one of the oldest members of the so-called Greatest Generation [1924-1924]

So there !! You really *can't* blame us Boomers for the the current fix we're in ... or can you ??


George said...

More on why you need a college degree to be a barista at Starbucks or to fold shirts at Forever 21

First off, I retired after 24 yrs on the faculty of a D-1 Ivy league university in a STEM field. Here's what I used to tell non-STEM majors who complained about needing college credentials to do a job any 8th grade drop-out could do:

A college degree tells your prospective employer that you can show up when required; complete basic assignments when necessary; and can read and write on at least a jr high school level. These are valuable traits any employer of low-skilled jobs is looking for

Beyond that, however, your future boss really couldn't give a flying fig about your knowledge of Art History

SM777 said...

"Cap it was affirmative action that killed off corporate training programs. Boeing used to give aptitude tests to factory floor workers and train the best to be engineers. As you can imagine whites were more often chosen than blacks due to the IQ difference between races. Blacks cried discrimination and sued Boeing so they dropped the program and pushed the training to colleges and other corporations followed suit."
Stefan Molyneaux pointed out the results of worldwide IQ tests by ethnic groups.

Anonymous said...

"I think advanced degrees are being used as a sort of implicit IQ test to measure skill-specific attainability, too. "

Degrees acquired recently are an inverse IQ test. Is the person smart enough to see through the BS? Can they do basic starting salary research and simple financial math? Are they dedicated enough to just learn it on their own online? Textbooks are not special. Correspondence degrees have been around for ages.

Pat Cummings said...

Excellent piece, wryly humorous—but never forget, Dan Bricklin was a boomer (b. 1951) and so was Charles Simonyl (b. 1949).

(Bricklin, "The Father of the Spreadsheet," invented VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet, but failed to patent it. Simonyl is listed as the creator of Excel, but actually managed a team that, like Lotus 1-2-3 creators, set out to improve on—weaponize, one might say—what Bricklin had created and released into the world...)

Dane Prywatne said...

Yes - companies stared training again because graduates do not know the shit. BTW the great opportunity in IT field is opening with old programming languages - a whole generation of programmers is going to retire - people who started in their 70-ties and 80-ties, therefore that is a list of languages that will show high demand for programmers:

Those are easy to learn languages (simple) and provided to learn via certification for below $10k-$20k ...