Breaking the Chokehold: Opening the Job Market to Competence

Higher Education is Broken

…the traditional credential is rapidly losing relevance. The value of paper degrees lies in a common agreement to accept them as a proxy for competence and status, and that agreement is less rock solid than the higher education establishment would like to believe.

… The value of paper degrees will inevitably decline when employers or other evaluators avail themselves of more efficient and holistic ways for applicants to demonstrate aptitude and skill. Harvard Business Review

The real world needs skilled workers of which there are relatively few — not more overpaid college graduates, of which there are many.

The particular skills that are needed at any given time are likely to vary — depending upon changing economic circumstances and government policies. That is why Dangerous Children learn at least 3 different ways to skillfully support themselves by the time they reach age 18. Skilled competence and resilience are key.

Why Haven’t MOOCs Broken the Chokehold of College Degrees?

…traditional college degrees are deeply embedded in government regulation and standard human resources practice. It doesn’t matter how good a teacher you are — if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, it’s illegal for a public school to hire you. Private-sector employers often use college degrees as a cheap and easy way to select for certain basic attributes, mostly the discipline and wherewithal necessary to earn 120 college credits.

Free online courses won’t revolutionize education until there is a parallel system of free or low-fee credentials, not controlled by traditional colleges, that leads to jobs. Now technological innovators are working on that, too.

The Mozilla Foundation, which brought the world the Firefox web browser, has spent the last few years creating what it calls the Open Badges project. Badges are electronic credentials that any organization, collegiate or otherwise, can issue. Badges indicate specific skills and knowledge, backed by links to electronic evidence of how and why, exactly, the badge was earned. __ New York Times

More on the Mozilla Open Badges:

A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you’ve earned. Open Badges take that concept one step further, and allows you to verify your skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations and attaches that information to the badge image file, hard-coding the metadata for future access and review. Because the system is based on an open standard, earners can combine multiple badges from different issuers to tell the complete story of their achievements — both online and off. Badges can be displayed wherever earners want them on the web, and share them for employment, education or lifelong learning. _ Mozilla Open Digital Badges

Follow the Mozilla link above to learn more about Open Badges and how to make them work for you.

This is just the beginning for alternative credentials. As you can see from the chart below, alternative credentials and “badges” are not about to replace degrees anytime soon. But already, the alternatives are making a significant difference in take-home pay in particular job categories for particular employers. The number of those employers and categories is set to grow.

Alternative Credentials Grow in Importance

High School, college, and professional degrees are usually sought to improve prospects for better jobs and higher incomes. But more and more, “alternative credentials” (PDF) — that demonstrate skills, competence, or knowledge above and beyond a basic degree — are becoming almost as important as the degree itself.

“The best combination for high financial returns is pairing degrees with [alternative] credentials. __

The chart above demonstrates where alternative credentials provide the largest benefit, in terms of higher wages, when combined with different levels of educational achievement.

What Are Alternative Credentials?

employers in general are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with traditional higher education. This stems from the fact that most business leaders don’t feel that recent graduates are adequately prepared for the workforce: in a recent Gallup survey, only 11% of business leaders strongly agreed that colleges and universities are doing a good job preparing students for work. Only 11%! Most companies want to hire degree holders, and indeed the number of jobs requiring a degree is expected to hit 60% by 2018, but hiring managers are becoming less and less certain about what those degrees actually mean.

To solve this problem, alternative credentials are being developed that are more closely tied to specific knowledge and demonstrable skills. __ Alternative Credentials and MOOCs

If employers begin to discount the importance of traditional degrees when making hiring decisions — and give a premium to holders of “alternative credentials” — colleges and universities will be forced to sit up and take notice.

The higher education bubble is consuming far too many of society’s resources, creating abundant waste and corruption in universities, government, media, labour unions and other lobbies, and think tanks — as well as turning societies away from new creative opportunities and productiveness.

… the higher ed bubble could be deflated to a more rational size by incentivizing the development and funding of more non-degree credential alternatives. Higher ed has a lot of value to offer that doesn’t have to be bottled up in degree programs. Like we’ll see in some of the items below, the private marketplace is developing alternative credentials in several innovative ways. Once we see that approach in higher ed and in the federal financial aid system, we’ll start seeing a lot more skilled workers. __ Alternative Credentials for Skilled Workers

The numbers in the quote below are two years old. But even on the shifting sands of a changing economy, you will find ready mismatches between job salaries, and the time and expense required to prepare for doing those jobs.

There is so much demand for software developers relative to supply that you can attend a three month development bootcamp and earn a salary of about the same as what an investment banker would be earning after four years of college. Around 98% of Flatiron School’s graduates find paid development gigs after the three month program, and they’re all getting a starting salary of at least $70k.

A development bootcamp costs about $10k. Four years of college costs about $200k, and many college graduates have trouble finding work at all, let alone earning over $70k. 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed! __ Higher Education Bubble Blog


Higher education has become a corrupt rent-seeker, hide-bound by dead traditions, corrupt administrators, and counter-productive ideology. Rather than having their minds set free by powerful and independent thinking skills, students are more often indoctrinated and academically lobotomised.

Students go to college to party — to binge, fornicate, take drugs — killing brain cells and time simultaneously. They hope that by some miracle they can graduate before the financial aid runs out, and that somehow they can get a job that will let them pay back all the loans.

Family, children, and contributing to the community are not real considerations — and won’t be for at least a decade to come, for large numbers. It all amounts to a huge waste and a demographic nightmare for society, as birth rates among the educated plummet.

The whole disastrous bubble is built upon a rotten foundation of early childraising and early childhood education. By college age, students should already know how to think for themselves — they should be conversant with the “great thinkers” that most college professors no longer to bother to teach. They should already be able to support themselves financially, so that if they do choose to get a degree, they are not dependent upon it for a comfortable living.

Independent-minded students are a nightmare for the modern petty tyrant professor. Such students can laugh openly at a professor’s ridiculous ideology — and they know what to do if a professor or administrator tries to throw their weight around unjustly. Colleges hate students who already know how to think for themselves.

This suggests that a true revolution in higher education needs a true revolution in early childhood education and in early child-raising methods. Lacking that, the higher education bubble is likely to continue inflating — to eventual catastrophic result for a large number of schools.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood.

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8 Responses to Breaking the Chokehold: Opening the Job Market to Competence

  1. hillary in yoga pants says:

    does mozilla have a badge for purging employees for bad think?

  2. good post. The college racket needs to meet its demise

  3. Pingback: Job Stuff 2 | The Arts Mechanical

  4. Matt Musson says:

    Recently went to Hadoop training and found the trainor had never attended college anywhere. But, he had mad Hadoop skills.

  5. tchernik says:

    Old time lurker. The sweetest past of this (at least for me) is the impending demise of the left-wing hive mind dominating academia nowadays.

    They thrived in academia because it is such a no-talent-or-work-required environment, it allows them to eat and survive to propagate their poisonous ideals.

    Without it, they will have to -gasp- work for their paychecks.

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