Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fade the sheepskin

Another of my long standing predictions about the pendulum swing that is now in process (away from liberalism and back toward conservatism) is that fancy but useless college degrees will collapse because most of them are a waste of time and money.  Why?  Because having them does not easily equate into real life productivity.  In fact, some of the most decorated academics are just useless on the job.  They get bored with doing real work and their liberal elitist mindset means they don't think they should be accountable for actually producing anything.  Their biggest skill is jawboning (and they tend to be very adept at this to the point where weak minds are easily swayed by their hypnotic bullshit).  It used to matter quite a bit which school you went to and what awards you got when you were there.  But college is a big waste of time for most people who actually produce something every day on demand in order to make the economy go.

Don't get me wrong.  We need high thinking people.  But not every fool is a high thinker.  Calling yourself a thought leader without anything to back it up simply makes you a legend in your own mind.  Some people really do benefit from college but most, even those in high tech, would be just as well served doing internships or apprenticeships or even self taught learning using a cheap computer and a free download of the ubuntu Linux build tree.  The Internet has broken the elite knowledge club that you used to be locked out of without an expensive college education.  There is so much help available online these days either in video form on YouTube, etc. that if I had a 12 or 13 year old child who showed tech aptitude and drive then I could guide them into receiving a fully functional technology education without ever paying a dime for formal tuition.

But wait, how can you get a job without the sheepskin??  Well to be honest, it used to be very difficult.  I know because that is the route I choose.  I had to work my way up from the very bottom.  But it took me about the same time to get paid like a college degree engineer as they had to spend in college.  In other words, for their college years they paid to learn and at the end they got a corporate job with a good salary.  In my case, I supported a family on what I got paid to learn albeit at a low rate at the start, as a manufacturing line worker at IBM's Boca Raton PC manufacturing operation.  It was not very technical but I was around high tech all day.  Computer parts and terminology were commonplace.  Over time the tech permeates you and you lose fear of it.  By doing a kick ass job in the lowly manufacturing area and showing aptitude and drive, I  was then offered a lab tech doing hardware debug under the oversight of a professional engineer.  After a few years of that I took some internal training at IBM and was made a junior programmer.  4 years after starting in manufacturing at IBM I had worked my way up to associate programmer, the same level that new college hires onboard.

And that was before the Internet even existed.  Nowadays a young person who graduates high school and then lives with the parents can, in two short years, learn enough computer tech via Internet based resources that are all free such that he/she can develop an android app.  And if the app is any good in terms of vision and execution, that is all you need to show up with at a corporate job interview with.  That is the new sheepskin.  That is far more than most college grads have ever done on their own. It shows that the applicant has what it takes to be successful.

While this is a tech perspective it is no different for any other field.  A person wanting work in mechanical fields can go learn Autocad 360 - a free online solid model development tool.  He can build a makerbot for low dollars and then bring his model portfolio with him to the interview.  Who needs a damned piece of paper when you can review actual work output.  Budding electrical engineers can design boards from scratch using online schematic capture and layout tools, all free, and then have simple boards built for $100.  A few small boards accompanied by a portfolio of larger board designs and layouts is all that it would take for a young person to impress a would be employer for an entry level EE position.

As we swing back toward conservatism, what people have shown that they can actually do is going to count for a Hell of a lot more than a piece of paper that suggest they are probably capable of actually doing something.

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