One hundred years ago, life was very different. The year 1916 was a leap year, and appropriately saw some interesting and unusual events:
- The first “super” market, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis Tennessee.
- Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland 222-0, the most lopsided score in the history of college football. Amazingly, neither team made a first down.
- If you owned an automobile, you most likely bought your gasoline from a drugstore.
- At least one shark mauled five swimmers along 80 miles of New Jersey coastline, resulting in four deaths and one amputation. These attacks became the inspiration for the novel (and subsequent movie) Jaws.
- Mary, a circus elephant, was hanged in Erwin, Tennessee for killing her handler.
- Silent film star Charlie Chaplin signed with Mutual Studios for $10,000 a week.
A lot has changed in 100 years. Supermarkets are plentiful, gas stations are on every corner, we no longer hang elephants, and college football teams typically don’t run up the score — unless style points count.
One of the biggest changes of the past 100 years is in education. A century ago, most jobs required little in the way of formal schooling, and most of the U.S. population didn’t go beyond elementary or grammar school. Completing high school was a rarity — an estimated 18 percent of the population age 25 and older had graduated high school. College grads were even more uncommon with just one for every 61 adults age 23 and older.
Online instruction completely altered the educational model. Education is no longer “just one time” in our lives, it’s now become “just-in-time.” We don’t have to enter college at 18 and leave four (or often more) years later. Students can learn what they want when they need it.
Oftentimes, we don’t even need to be in the same room as our instructors. Online learning is available to anyone with an internet connection. There are a passel of online providers like edX and Coursera offering short-term education delivered in easily digested formats — in some instances for free.
Instead of spending years pursuing a degree, that may not help them get a job, and racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt, more students are choosing IT certifications. Earning a certification is quicker, less expensive, and more convenient than a four-year degree. Additionally, certification courses provide up-to-date information and training.
In 1916, the predominant occupational category was that of craftsmen, laborers, and operatives. Professional and technical workers — today’s largest category — was less than five percent of all workers. In the electronic age, there is an increased demand for professional training and certifications.
In 2015, employers spent north of $413 billion to provide informal and on-the-job training to their employees, and individuals spent another $30 billion on professional education and certifications.
With IT certifications students focus on courses that provide the key concepts and hands-on experience needed to land a job. Rather than suffering through boring and unrelated courses, students pick and choose those that equip them with the specific knowledge and skills needed for a particular position.
An IT certification may not land you a Charlie Chaplin-level salary — $10,000 a week is a princely sum even in 2016 (darn movie stars still get all the breaks) — but it will improve your employability and open doors to bigger and better career opportunities.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin does not condone the mistreatment of elephants (even for capital offenses) or Bulldogs.
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