What Employers Want You to Learn

Employers want you to have a very specific set of personal skills. Among the top of the list are:  critical thinking, written and oral communications, inquiry and analysis, quantitative literacy, information literacy, team work and problem solving, life long learning. Notice that this list of priorities does not include, “a college degree from XYZ university” or “a major in ABC”.  This list prioritizes what you need to be able to do to be a valued employee. Your challenge is to wisely invest your time and money in learning that can provide these personal skills. The bottom line is that simply getting a college degree (“getting the piece of paper”) is not sufficient to meet these employer needs.

You need to learn to be able to compete today. Far-reaching global, economic and technological developments have converged to make post-secondary learning an imperative for almost everyone.

Buzz Today Source: Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College Both the country’s future economic growth and individual opportunity are now closely tied to the attainment of high levels of knowledge and skill, and to the ability to continuing learning over a lifetime. Former Harvard University President Derek Bok reports that college students are under-performing in virtually every area of academic endeavor including skills such as critical thinking, writing and quantitative reasoning.

So a question you should be asking is: “Why are employers looking for better ways to hire?” I defer to Laszio Bock, Google’s senior vice president for people operations to answer this question. “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.s are worthless as a criteria for hiring and test scores are worthless – no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation,” Bock said. “Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything…On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything.” Source: New York Times Interview

The important thing about this information, is what it means to you – someone trying to decide the best course of action to your learn-prosper future. Here is the main take away. When it comes to getting a better job, one that is challenging, fulfilling and pays well, the things that have been valuable in the past are far less valuable today. Your opportunities are much more defined by how accomplished you are in the skills listed in the first paragraph of this blog than either the major or which college or university you attended. This all brings us to a discussion about the cost and value of your learning. This is a topic I will cover in future blog posts here. In the meantime, it is valuable to read “Your Future is Calling” to better understand why you should view learning as the path to the prosperous future you desire.

What You Need to Know About Careers and Education

Learn Prosper is real. Two out of three jobs available today require some form of learning credential. There are millions of job opportunities every month. The overwhelming majority of those opportunities require that you have education credentials to even be considered. The BUZZ Today has the data. The analysis is in the body of this post.

Buzz TodaySource: US Bureau of Labor Statistics There were 4.0 million job openings in December 2013 and there were 4.4 million hires in December 2013. This makes a total of 8.4 million opportunities to find a new job or career in one 30 day period at the end of 2013.

The argument is over education in the future. There is a lot of debate about whether the forecasts for future jobs are real or not. The Lumina Foundation has a big goal: “To increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60% by the year 2025”. Another forecast of the demand for degree credentials comes from the highly regarded Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce which forecasts that the decade growth ending in 2018 will create 47 million new job openings. Of those new jobs, the forecast is for nearly two-thirds of them to require some post-secondary education.

Recently, some have argued that the value of an education is overstated and that forecasts of future labor demand are flawed.  Much of this argument is entangled with the fact that higher education has become too expensive. This fact is true. Higher education in America has become too expensive. But this is a different issue than whether labor markets demand an education.

The BUZZ Today data shows that there are millions of positions available in the labor markets today – 8.4 million opportunities last December alone to be precise. The jobs are there. What you need to know is what it takes to qualify. Here additional information is valuable.

The massive job posting service Monster.com has studied the mix of current job postings on their web site. What they found is that 60% of those postings required a bachelor degree or above. This is data on the job market today, not some contested forecast about future labor market conditions.

There is one additional fact that you need to know about this issue of career opportunities and education. Companies are receiving massive numbers of resumes for every position. To handle this very real challenge, most large companies use resume screening software to qualify job applicants. If your resume does not match the key words and qualifications of the job posting you will not get an interview. The bottom line is that for the vast majority of the millions of job opportunities you must have a degree credential to even be considered for the position. Without the credentials, it is extremely unlikely that you will be invited to interview.

The main conclusion is that an education vastly increases your chances for a new career. For personal guidance on how to most efficiently obtain that education, go to Your Future is Calling. The book is full of helpful guidance on linking “who you are” to careers and the education path you need to get to the future you desire.

Good Paying Jobs That Do Not Require a Bachelor’s Degree

There are good paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree but they do require skills that are changing as our world changes. Learning is still key to a better future. But how do you decide what to learn?  The answer is that you should begin with “who you are” then decide what to study that can lead to a better future for yourself and your loved ones. Buzz TodaySource: O*NET  The O*NET program is the nation’s primary source of occupational information. Every occupation requires a different mix of knowledge, skills, and abilities, and is performed using a variety of activities and tasks. The data base defines the set of occupations across the world of work. Based on the Standard Occupational Classification the O*NET-SOC taxonomy currently includes 974 occupations 

With so many occupations to select from, it is no wonder that readers are challenged to find just the right combination of factors needed to fit exactly “who they are”.  In this post we explore the important characteristics of a few of the 974 choices to show how a new career can be chosen.  I recommend that you look at several important characteristics for any career you may be considering.  These are:

* The size of the profession. This gives you an indication of how many jobs in this profession there are in the US economy. Here size matters. Larger professions provide more opportunities.

* Growth in the profession is another important parameter for you to consider.  As our world changes opportunities in different careers are changing as well.  Some careers attractive just a few years ago have already been impacted by changes.  A good example is desktop publishing.  Only a few years ago this was a growing job opportunity.  Today this profession is much less attractive with a very limited growth prospect.

* Earnings are another important piece of information in your career choice. Incurring student debt to earn credentials in a poorly paying occupation is a path to a dismal future.

* How well the occupation fits you is another important factor. This is the part about “who you are”.  Here again you need good data about personality and the characteristics of those already in the profession.

Here is data on a few of the 974 careers.  All of these require less than a bachelor degree and are reasonably accessible through education at a community college at a reasonable investment level.

Patrol Police Officer

This is a profession that, with the right personal history, is relatively easy to enter.  42% of current officers entered the profession directly from high school but an associate’s degree provides better prospects.  It is a large profession with 664,000 current positions growing by 249,000 (2010-2020).  The median pay is $55,270 per year.  This profession requires personal attributes that include integrity, self control, stress tolerance and attention to detail.

Dental Hygienist

This is a reasonably large job classification with 182,000 current positions with over two thirds occupied by professionals with an associate’s degree making it a relatively easy profession to enter through a very affordable path at a local community college. Growth is projected to be over 29% (2010-2020) and compensation in 2012 was highly attractive with an annual median income of $70,210.  In addition to technical training required, personality attributes that align with the requirements of the job include a good-natured and cooperative attitude.


This is a large employment category with employment of 256,000 with good growth projected over the next decade.  The median salary in 2012 was $46,990 annually. Apprenticeships by state are available.  In addition, certificates are available from The Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals.   Personal attributes including attention to detail, dependability, and integrity.

Registered Nurse
This is a huge profession with 2010 employment at 2,737,000 with projected openings by 2020 of 1,207,400 professionals. This size and growth are being driven by new medical technology and the aging of the baby boomers. Compensation is attractive at a 2012 median level of $65,470 annually. Personality attributes important in this profession include concern for others, dependability, stress tolerance, self control and attention to detail.

Summary:   All of these careers can be entered with learning that is less than the traditional bachelor’s degree.  This makes learning a key but manageable entry to these attractive professional careers.

Online Courses – Five Important Things About MOOCs

Higher education is changing.  MOOCs are a recent innovation.  MOOCs are new. They represent a different model for learning. Here are important things you need to know about a MOOC.     Buzz TodaySource:  Wikipedia   A massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students.

Important Item #1   MOOC offerings are exploding.  Dozens of universities have jumped on the MOOC band wagon and are offering new courses at a feverish pace.  Many colleges are loading content from courses they developed earlier.  Others are creating new course content especially for MOOCs.  MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Yale are among the prestigious universities offering courses in the MOOC format.

Important Item #2   There can be as many as a hundred thousand “classmates” in a given MOOC course.  While this might seem like a vary large class, it  is.  There is a reason they are called massively open online courses.  Your fellow MOOC classmates might include a ten year old kid and/or someone from Russia.  All are welcome.

Important Item #3   The graduation rate for MOOCs is very low.  The average graduation rate for traditional colleges and universities in America is close to 50% with prestigious Ivy League graduation rates over 90%.  The current completion rate for MOOCs today is less than 10% of those enrolled.  There is a reason.  While MOOCs have some support services they are largely self study in format.  The online delivery and format requires intense personal discipline.  Not everyone has the self discipline to complete the work.

Important Item #4  There are emerging online catalogs that list the exploding offerings.  One source is MOOC List.  It is unclear how long the writers of this blog will be able to stay up with the exploding course offerings.  For now it is a full listing of offerings

Important Item #5  MOOCs are not necessarily just about getting credits toward a degree. While there is an emerging way to get college credit, the majority of American colleges and Universities will not accept the new credit assignment process from the American Council on Education (ACE). But college credit is not the only reason you should be considering MOOCs as a step in your Learn Prosper pathway.  Tens of thousands of students are enrolling in one or more MOOCs because they just want to learn more about a specific topic.  One resource that is especially convenient with lots of small courses is Khan Academy.

The opportunity to learn prosper has not been available to many in the past.  Some simply could not afford to go to a campus full time to earn a degree. The MOOC has exploded onto the higher education scene.   Ten years from now the MOOC will be an integral part of higher education.  For now this development is in its infancy.  If you have any interest at all in learning you should try a MOOC to see how it fits who you are.   As I outline in Your Future is Calling, finding out who you are and how the areas relate to the career of your choice is the place to start. From there, a MOOC may be a great learning option for you.  Explore it.