Back in June I went off to New York City for a good friend's 40th birthday.
It was like the anti-Vegas guy's trip.
Instead of screaming at each other over loud music at the various Vegas bars, this was more about conversations at great restaurants.
I even managed to get up early each morning and go for walks... it was awesome.
Or I'm old.
Not sure which.
The topic of the economy came up repeatedly, and after the trip it got me thinking about my children.
You see, the guys I was travelling with own a staffing company that is doing really well, extremely well in fact.
And over the last dozen years, I've noticed a massive trend in large companies going to either "temp workers" or "outsourcing to India" or to "contractors".
In the software and finance world, this is happening at a super fast rate.
I'm no expert but it's obvious to me that this is part of the reason... along with technology itself... that corporations are sitting on bucket loads of cash.
And their increased profits are part of the reason the stock market is at record levels.
This presents an interesting problem.
Because, in exchange for these profits, it's completely destroying middle class jobs.
It's our very strong belief that the next five, ten and fifteen years are going to present major challenges for people who cannot adjust to this.
We both vividly recall when our friends and their parent's... who have known us for decades... told us that we were crazy to leave our high paying jobs.
It was too risky.
But today it seems the tide has turned.
And many haven't noticed yet.
Going to school, especially University, with no plan other than to graduate and "get a job" may not look so appealing in short order... if not already.
If you have a fifteen year old today, by the time they finish University, it'll be 2020.
Our money says that there aren't going to be "job fairs" at Universities looking for a general University education.
An arts degree, or even a general science degree, isn't going to be worth very much in the marketplace... if anything.
As employers ourselves, we're in need of people with some SKILLS.
It also seems obvious to us that a career of 30-40 years at one company is already a pipe dream... that boat has sailed.
Our children better be prepared to be self reliant.
They better know how to show their value in the market.
They better know how to make some money all by themselves... without the help of a job, or a company.
Skills like getting people to websites, selling stuff in person or online, marketing strategies that can be applied to any business... those are the survival skills.
They can go off and follow their passion, but they better know how to close a sale to fund their journey.
And the last time we checked, Universities weren't teaching that.
By pushing our kids into University, with no other preparation for the real world, we may be doing them a massive disservice.
We may be teaching them to read, write, and think critically, but we're surely not teaching them how to support themselves financially, how to invest, how the financial system works, how to create a lifestyle they enjoy.
Maybe instead of forcing them to take first year calculus, we should be forcing them to watch ABC's TV show Shark Tank.
If they walk into a job after University, what happens after 5 years when that company lays them off, changes direction, moves to Asia, streamlines its workforce, outsources everything?
Youth unemployment in Canada is over 13% (Source) and that's considered good... it's over 15% in the U.S. (Source).
If we can forecast forward 10-15-20 years and anticipate less middle class jobs and more "temp" and "contract" jobs, because of technology and globalization, then why are we sending our kids to an institution that prepares them for the middle class?
If our children go to University it sure won't be with the hopes it will help them get and keep a job.
Until next time... Your Life! Your Terms!
Loved this comment. Very few are paying attention to this trend but it is everywhere to be seen.
My good friend has two university graduate boys with no job prospects. They went ahead and got their gas fitters papers and are now earning a decent wage. Not huge but enough to live and thrive on.
Real tangible skills are like hard assets in that they will always have value to someone.
Great article. Funny you should bring this up - just recently I had a conversation with a friend who is toying with the idea of NOT sending his son to a university, because of similar reasons. We both agreed that, although our society is not fully prepared to accept the fact that in our day and age you can obtain skills without going to university (heck, you can get fully educated in any topic through the Internet nowadays, basically for free), the "formal education" is only relevant if you want to get a corporate "job" or a "career" (naturally, people in those circles would frown upon hipsters who would just show up with no formal degree - even if they could prove their skills - it just doesn't sit well with corporate offices), but if you are setting your kid up for more or less an entrepreneurial route - this become irrelevant. Granted, there may be certain careers that definitely require an actual degree and a more formalized education (contrary to popular belief, I cannot be considered a doctor, regardless of how much medical research I read through on the Internet *sigh*) and some people want (and can afford) a degree in arts for reasons other than strictly earning money, but rather to unleash their own creativity and that should be a legitimate enough reason. But I fully agree that teaching kids to be independent and entrepreneurial should at least be factored into and coexist with their formal education (should this route be chosen).
Interestingly, the emphasis on "skills" rather than on "education" is even evident from Canada's new federal immigration program, effective Jan 1, 2015 - and this is another proof that you can have all the theoretical education you want in the world, but still not be marketable.
Great post. I have two daughters in university 4th and the proverbial 5th year hence the need to invest heavily in real estate. Thank goodness. I agree totally that uni is spoiling them. We as parents want to support our children and help them pursue their dreams and that comes with a hefty price including the student rental. The funny thing is that my daughters were the ones who pointed out to me the positives of owning student rentals and believe me they were willing to be way tougher on their fellow room mates than I would have been.
End point parents can model the behaviour and the kids whether they have arts science or engineering degrees with always do the math. Their I -phone payments and Starbucks lattes depend on it!