21st century skills for the Class of 2013

02/17/13 20:37:00    

By Michael Mealling

In about two months the media will be dusting off last year's articles about fresh-faced and normally optimistic kids graduating college with no hope of paying off their school loans. Two articles came out this week that every parent of a high school graduate looking at college should read. The first is from Salary.com:

8 College Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment These Careers Might Make You Happy, But Fail the Tuition ROI Test

By Dawn Dugan, Salary.com contributing writer.

What's more expensive than going to college? Until recently, the answer was easy: not going to college. Numerous studies over the years have shown that individuals with college degrees significantly out-earn those with high school degrees by $1 million or more over the course of a lifetime.

The point is that, unless you are either retired, independently wealthy, or already an accomplished artist, these degrees are not something you should ever go into debt for. And if you are an accomplished artist you should be able to get the scholarships to prove it. That said, while you are getting your engineering or science degree there is a great deal of utility in having a humanities minor. They help you think creatively.

But even then, that may not be enough. What comes next does not come from you professors. It comes from you:

What Students Really Need to Learn to Get a Startup Job Dan Woods, Contributor

To get a job, you don’t work on your resume; you work on yourself. Here’s what startups are after:

  • People who are on a mission, not just looking for a job
  • People who are interested in the work, not validation and approval
  • People who can show skills, not just claim them
  • People who are aggressive but understand how to listen and admit they are wrong
  • People who can learn new skills rapidly
  • People who want to learn and to teach
  • People who like to work collaboratively in teams, not on their own

While not everyone is cutout for startup life or being a software developer, those personal skills and attributes are the things every employer would kill for. When I was at Masten Space we could see a huge qualitative difference between a welder who was just a welder and one who was an entpreneur who could weld. The first certainly did the job but the second could lay a bead like an artist.

Our economy is moving in a direction where those who don't create are doomed to serve those who do in low-wage, low-skill jobs. There is no room for marginally skilled manual labor anymore. There are a few industries that need them: oil workers in North Dakota is one. But those jobs don't last long enough to build your life around. Build your life around change. Build the skills that let you take advantage of change.

comments powered by Disqus