Seth picks up the “future-of-(higher)-education” ball and runs with it in this post, which goes down nicely with this post. I really think we’re approaching a big moment in the evolution of the American education system – and it’s more of a reversion than a progression of what’s already happening.
For my parents’ generation – as I’m reminded so often – degrees weren’t necessary for success in most fields. Employers cared about whether you could do the job, not whether you went to the right school and studied the right major; if you seemed competent, you’d get a shot. Then, as the industrial sector shrank and specialized office work grew, making the world more complicated and employee qualifications harder to suss out, employers started looking more to academic credentials as proxies for intelligence and competence. And as a consequence, lots of Baby Boomers who never pursued higher education collided with the glass ceiling.
But it now seems like things are reverting, or at least becoming something that more closely resembles the old meritocracy than the credentialism that has dominated the last few decades. Employers seem to finally be picking up on the disconnect between degrees and practical skills. And just as there was a large portion of the Baby Boomer population that collided with the glass ceiling when employers shifted focus from merit to credentialing, so too will a large number of my peers when faced with employers more interested in what you can do than the name on your college education receipt (diploma). Change always yields creative destruction in one form or another, and this will be no different. I’m excited to see the creativity that will inevitably come of it.