A refrain one often hears in educational circles is that U.S. universities and colleges are the “envy of the world.” Based upon the number of foreign students attending each year, there does appear to be some validity to that claim. These institutions are certainly doing something right.
Since 2007, the number of foreign students coming to our shores has increased more than 85 percent, and only once since 1957 has the number gone down — after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when screening for student visas tightened up. Last year alone, more than 1 million foreign scholars made the trek to study here with the majority coming from China, India, and Saudi Arabia respectively.
They aren’t taking wimpy classes either. Foreign students are well represented in the hard sciences, with more than one-third majoring in engineering, math, or computer science. And like college students everywhere, they spend money, contributing more than $35 billion to the economy in 2017, more than $5 billion of that in California alone.
Having spent too many of my first 30 years in educational institutions of dubious quality, I’ve come to believe in the value of a formal education. I do, however, frequently ask myself, “If our institutions are so good, why are so many companies spending piles of money having to train and retrain employees?"
Staff retraining is increasingly common. This year AT&T Inc. will spend more than $1 billion to retool their 100,000 employees with classes and programs. Major employers opening their coffers to bring employees up-to-snuff include CVS Health Corp., IBM, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and a host of others.
Largely due to Pell grants, risibly easy access to student loans, and a traditional belief that college is the path to success, the default option for most students is an expensive four-year degree. The time requirement and accompanying debt load involved in completing a degree frequently make this is a tough choice for many young people. It's made even more frustrating by the fact that fewer than half who enroll end up graduating and landing a job utilizing their degree.
Employers are realizing that there are downsides to relying on a bachelor’s degree as a proxy for skills:
- Degree requirements limit the number of potential applicants for open positions.
- A company’s search and recruitment costs increase chasing candidates.
- Costs for candidates in time and money also increase pursuing degrees and looking for work.
I wonder how many great employees are prevented from making a positive contribution on their employer’s bottom-line all because they lack a piece of paper. As I’ve heard some argue, “A creative genius like Thomas Edison couldn’t land an interview with these companies.” Imagine what the world would have missed out on if Edison had been told he needed a degree to get a job.
Fortunately, companies are altering their hiring decisions, basing them not on what degree a candidate has, but what skills they already possess, or what the company believes it can teach them. This is increasingly common for the fields of manufacturing, healthcare, and my personal favorite, information technology. Each is moving so fast that colleges and universities can’t keep pace. These industries also just happen to be the ones most struggling to fill skilled positions.
If a person is interested in any of these fields, they can increase their likelihood of landing a solid job with the right IT certification. It’s quick, thorough and lot less expensive than sitting through four years of classes, mary of which are of little to no interest for you personally, while trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. A certification is also up-to-date when it comes to the knowledge and skills needed for certain positions.
Whatever your interest in the IT realm, TestOut Continuing Education is a great place to start. We offer a plethora of courses suited to learners at many different of familiarity with IT, and each course is stuffed with easy-to-follow videos and simulations designed to mirror real-world scenarios and hardware. You are guaranteed to learn the skills needed to perform on the job.
For more than 25 years TestOut has been making a positive difference in people’s lives through education using breakthrough technology. TestOut courseware is a complete training solution guaranteed to provide you the chance for a better life through improved employment opportunities. Check us out!
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin lives in an ivory tower, but he doesn't ever tell anyone that.
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