With IBM's CEO Ginni Rometty coining the phrase "new collar" workers, a reader asked me to comment on this 2015 Forbes article [Why We Desperately Need To Bring Back Vocational Training In Schools] by Nicholas Wyman.
The article starts out giving background history of the current mess we are in. Here is an excerpt:
My father was a mechanical engineer who enjoyed fixing cars and woodworking on the weekends. I had plenty of "vocational training" growing up at home, no need for me to have this in school, allowing me to focus on getting ready for college.
Nicholas asks legitimate questions at this stage: "So what’s the harm in prepping kids for college? Won’t all students benefit from a high-level, four-year academic degree program?" His initial response is:
Hard to argue that people are different, and learn in different ways. Not everyone is meant for college.
"...And not everyone goes to college. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that about 68 percent of high school students attend college. That means over 30 percent graduate with neither academic nor job skills..."
Here is what I have most problems with. To think that the 30 percent of high schools students graduate, but do not go to college, have neither academic nor job skills? I disagree with this, as there are many jobs where the academic and job skill training they received in high school is more than adequate. Nicholas then doubled down:
There are a lot of successful billionaires who did not complete four yeas of college: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Henry Ford, and Howard Hughes, just to name a few.
If you feel that the only purpose of attending high school or college is to get job-specific skills, then you are missing out on all the other aspects of those that teach you valuable life lessons, getting along with others, teamwork, communications, and other "soft skills" that aren't necessarily job-specific.
Teenagers entering college are still growing up, trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, discovering new ideas, new ways of thinking, and networking with people of different backgrounds and cultures.
"...The U.S. economy has changed. The manufacturing sector is growing and modernizing, creating a wealth of challenging, well-paying, highly skilled jobs for those with the skills to do them. The demise of vocational education at the high school level has bred a skills shortage in manufacturing today, and with it a wealth of career opportunities for both under-employed college grads and high school students looking for direct pathways to interesting, lucrative careers. Many of the jobs in manufacturing are attainable through apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and vocational programs offered at community colleges. They don’t require expensive, four-year degrees for which many students are not suited..."
The skills shortage is real, but until employers are willing to pay people for what they're worth, the situation will not be resolved. The free market has a way to fix skills shortages. High demand raises salaries, and causes people to invest in high school and college education in part to vie for these positions. That is in part why medical doctors are paid so much.
"...The modern workplace favors those with solid, transferable skills who are open to continued learning. Most young people today will have many jobs over the course of their lifetime, and a good number will have multiple careers that require new and more sophisticated skills..."
A few years ago, I was hosting clients for dinner in Tucson. The sales rep had brought his daughter and her roommate along, as there was a shooting at their college campus and classes were canceled for the week. The daughter asserted, "In 18 months, I will no longer have to learn anything again. I will be done with school." Her roommate chimed in, "Ha! I am a year ahead of you, and only six months away from that!"
I was the bearer of bad news. "Ladies," I said, "you will have to get used to learning new things the rest of your lives." The highest ranking client at the table overheard me, and she re-iterated, "Ladies, that is probably the best advice I have heard in awhile. I suggest you heed it carefully."
A big part of high school and college education is to teach you how to learn on your own. Learn to read, search out information, take measurements, gather data, make plans, and ask the right questions. These are skills that are useful in a wide variety of careers.
Nicholas concludes with:
"...Just a few decades ago, our public education system provided ample opportunities for young people to learn about careers in manufacturing and other vocational trades. Yet, today, high-schoolers hear barely a whisper about the many doors that the vocational education path can open. The “col
I agree the educational system in United States is broken, but I am not sure I agree with everything that Nicholas writes in this article.
It seems June and July are the months that folks provide career advice to recent graduates, or to students entering higher education.
This quote from Elliot Fletcher caught my eye:
"Have your own definition of success...so you can fulfill your dreams, not someone else's expectations of your dreams."
How do you define success? For some, it is based on their salary, or perhaps revenue they helped close for their company.
For others, their family life and the flexibility to handle work/life issues might be more important.
Still others look for certifications and awards from official agencies.
As a side gig, I sometimes do bartending on the weekends. Typically, these are for weddings or corporate parties.
I took weeks of bartender training and passed a three-hour exam to become state-certified to do so in Arizona. We Arizonans take our liquor seriously! If you think about it, bartending is just a notch below being a Pharmacist dispensing other drugs.
Surprisingly, some of my patrons will be condescending, "Don't you wish you can do more with your life than be a bartender?"
I am also certified "Laughter Yoga" instructor, and am called in at times to substitue for other instructors. Again, I took formal training and was certified to do so.
Again, some of my students will ask, "Don't you wish you could do more with your life than be a yoga instructor?"
In both cases, I would respond, "Dude, I earn six figures, and am happy to meet new people every week, how about you?" This usually shuts them up!
Bloggers often use "website traffic" as a metric to measure success. David Spark interviewed me for a Forbes article [You're Already Sitting On The Secret To Successful Blogging]
(For those interested, here are [my top 10 posts] which served as the basis of the interview!)
I am happy to be recognized externally and within IBM for my success as a blogger. Since I started blogging over 10 years ago, I have helped close over $4 Billion USD in revenue for IBM, written five books on IBM Storage, mentored dozens of other successful bloggers, and presented to thousands of clients at conferences, workshops and briefings.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements! I am here in New York for the exciting news!
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for the IBM z14 mainframe and DS8880 Storage System.)
In support of the [IBM z14] mainframe announcement, IBM has also disclosed R8.3 enhancements for the DS8880 Storage System. Here is a quick recap:
To learn more, my colleague, Jeff Barber, adds his thoughts on the In the Making group blog with his post [Integration by design: DS8880 and IBM Z].
(Final note: you might notice the change in upper and lower case. The IBM z14 (lower case) refers to the specific mainframe model, consistent with its predecessors the z13 and z13s, but the family name "IBM z Systems" has been shortened to "IBM Z®" (upper case). IBM Storage Systems and IBM POWER Systems were already upper case, so the mainframe guys just wanted to follow suit. I suspect "IBM i" will remain lower case, however.)
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
While "Hyperconvergence" is still fairly new, and only about 1 percent of data centers have deployed this new technology, I am glad that IBM is a leader in this space with multiple offerings across both x86 and POWER systems platforms.
This week, I am presenting at the IBM Systems Technical University in Orlando, Florida, May 22-26, 2017. Here is my recap of the sessions on the morning of Day 5, the last day of the conference.
This was a great event, just the right size, between 1,500 and 2,000 attendees. Similar IBM Technical University events coming up later this year:
Check out the [IBM Systems Technical University 2017] page.
Save the date: Next year, we will be back in Orlando, April 30-May 4!
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