Earlier this week I stopped at a roadside fruit stand to buy some apples. A teenager was working there who I know to be an honor student at the local high school. I bought a case for $12 and handed her a $20. She paused for a second and then began searching for her phone. An older worker asked what she was doing. She responded, “I’m getting my calculator.” The older worker rolled his eyes and said, “Change is $8.” I thanked them, pocketed my change and walked away more worried than ever about the quality of education in America.
In 2012 the American Institutes for Research conducted a study on adult literacy that included some disturbing findings: 75 percent of two-year college students and 50 percent of four-year college students were incapable of completing everyday tasks like balancing a checkbook, comprehending news articles, and calculating a tip. (I doubt that things have gotten any better in the ensuing four years as video games have gotten more engrossing and social media is all but enslaving young people.)
The study did find a couple of positives: 1) the more rigorous a course of study was the better students performed, and 2) students who took part in interactive classes showed increased ability to learn and retain new knowledge and tasks, and were significantly better at “applying such learning to real-world situations.”
This is good news for students pursuing an IT certification, especially those using TestOut’s LabSim — the complete, end-to-end certification training solution. The strength of LabSim and its hands-on training is that students don’t just learn how to do something, they actually get to show their skills by completing real-world simulations.
Surprisingly, I was reminded 15 minutes later of the impact of hands-on training when I picked up a computer from the repair shop. The kid who did the work was barely into his teenage years. I asked him where he learned his skills. His response, “I took a certification course from TestOut.” I encouraged him to keep on certifying and gladly paid the $50 invoice.
IT professionals tend to be a bright bunch, with IQs a bit higher than average. This is good because IT is widely seen, and with evidence, as one of the 10 fields that require a high IQ. The good news is that a high IQ and solid IT training pay off with higher salaries. This is especially true for young people starting out in their first jobs. The rewards are certainly greater than those of a seasonal job selling apples, or of my first job, cleaning drains in a meat packing facility.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. To this day he has never eaten another sausage.