More adults than ever seem to be going back to school to learn new skills these days. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows a seven percent growth in college enrollment for adults age 25 and older between 2005 and 2015. Even more surprising is that they project the trend to increase to 12 percent within the next three years.
This begs the question: Why are so many adults going back to school? Isn’t our education system giving them the necessary skills to earn a living? Apparently “No Child Left Behind” has indeed left a few kids behind.
Today’s work place has also changed. It’s now chock full of technology, most of it requiring a reasonably high level of digital skill and the ability to problem solve. A whopping 68 percent of Americans own smartphones, and most adults know how to send an email, text, and upload videos to social media — but that’s no longer good enough.
Research shows that more than 60 percent of U.S. adults lack the ability to use digital tools to function in a work setting. Sadly, as technology becomes more pervasive, these individuals will find themselves falling behind and, in many instances, losing their jobs.
The good news is that many of the adults returning to school are not going for degrees — they are going for certifications. The primary reason is that these adults, and also the employers they hope to impress, know what skills and knowledge are needed to be employable in the modern workplace. A Ph.D. in Medieval Masonry Techniques may be interesting, but it ain’t gonna get you a job — unless of course a local baron is building a castle nearby.
IT certifications are the way to go for many adults. IT positions make up more than 11 percent of all job openings in the U.S., and with 96 percent of hiring managers reporting that they use certs as a hiring criteria, having one or more can help land your resume on the short-pile.
IT certifications are also widely seen as proof of competency. According to a 2015 study by CompTIA, research shows that compared to non-certified peers, certified employees are:
- More confident
- More knowledgeable
- Reach job proficiency quicker
- More reliable
- Perform at a higher level
Colleges and universities are also beginning to recognize the value of certification training for their students, increasingly offering certs as part of their curricula. High-schools are also climbing on the certification band-wagon. 14 states presently allow students to fulfill a math, science or foreign language credit requirement by completing computer science classes (wherein many students earn certifications) with four states — Louisiana, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia — going so far as to award a special diploma to graduates who have earned certain computer science credits.
Businesses are also driving IT certifications by spending money to give classrooms access to computers and training. At the end of 2015 Microsoft announced that they would be pouring an additional $75 million into their YouthSpark Initiative, to expand tech education and literacy in 170 public high schools.
Whether you’re a teenager or a more seasoned adult, IT certifications are the path to a stable and rewarding career filled with opportunities. It’s a brave new world, and you need to be a part of it — get certified!
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. He is currently accepting applications for a qualified medieval mason to build his castle.
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