The future of work won’t be about college degrees, it will be about job skills

  • Twenty million students started college this fall, and this much is certain: The vast majority of them will be taking on debt — a lot of debt.

    What’s less certain is whether their degrees will pay off.

    According to the survey Freelancing in America 2018, released Wednesday, freelancers put more value on skills training: 93 percent of freelancers with a four-year college degree say skills training was useful versus only 79 percent who say their college education was useful to the work they do now. In addition, 70 percent of full-time freelancers participated in skills training in the past six months compared to only 49 percent of full-time non-freelancers.

  • No longer wasting time on a "traditional" college degree is real.The evidence is all around. very few are willing to admit it yet.

    When college graduates emerge from dull and stupid "education" with debt equivalent to a house, while the colleges and universities are more than fully endowed... criminal.

    The AZCWR has encountered nothing but hostility from universities. While our work with community colleges has been nothing short of amazing. Clearly the future is revealed.

    Let the dinosaurs die. Long live educational institutions that understand the world we live in. Long live educational institutions where community engagement is more than a meme.

    We are working with those educational partners now. Help us make a better world, free from the drama, treachery, and uselessness of overpriced, woefully insufficient education from people who do not understand what they are teaching.

  • Good. College is a joke anyhow with what's coming out versus the cost. I wonder what's going to happen with the economy when whoever is financing the debt comes to the point of "where's my money"? #stewie

    Especially in technology skills & hands on experience vs college degree wins out. It's just hard to get past the HR sheep without it. 🙂

  • A few departments within universities are struggling to bring in real-world experience through industry-project-based learning opportunities, but they can't seem to get out of their own way to fully optimize it and internal acceptance by administration/faculty is slow.

    Accreditation is about the only thing the universities still having going for them, but I don't see how that's going to remain intact in the long-run. The university based coding boot camp program (run by an outside third party) reminds me once a month that they'll have accreditation while others won't. It won't take much before non-university degree programs develop good reputations with industry if their new-hires prove their worth as a result of learning what businesses really want to pay for...and at that point they won't care as much about accreditation. As someone who has been through both university and trained apprentice types looking for something they couldn't get through a university, this is both disturbing and a breath of fresh air. I never really enjoyed the non-project based learning atmosphere. One of my most memorable classes was at the community college where a Raytheon engineer had us apply a computer program to the aerodynamics of an airplane wing and then model it by hand to compare. That at least felt a lot more applicable.

    It will be very interesting to watch how this unfolds over the next few years.

  • @blscott - the operative word in the article is "freelancers". The traditional college degree requirement won't go away for regular W2 employees anytime soon - Not until the legacy HR departments and Senior Managers are so starved for talent that they have no choice to look at skills trained individuals.

    I had this argument in 1985 with a corporate HR director... it hasn't changed in over 30 years.

  • If you can get into work, each year of work experience at a well established company is equal to one year at college. You still have to somehow pass the entry level requirement that you have "two years experience or bachelor's degree", this can usually be skirted by networking yourself into your first job. Go to meetups, we have a tremendous amount of them for anything related to tech in Phoenix. If you get familiar enough with others and work with them on projects or prove yourself not a complete idiot, usually that will eventually open a door to an interview.

    If you're just breaking into industry, certifications may help sweeten the deal once you get to the point HR or higher-ups are reviewing your resume, hopefully as a final step to the hiring process and not a first step. The trick is to bypass the initial HR step. If an employee who believes you're cut out for the job talks to his manager who voiced his need for new hires, that's your backdoor around HR. Congratulations, you're no longer a statistic in a big pile of resumes. It doesn't hurt to keep sending resumes or keeping LinkedIn up-to-date either, but that should not be your primary focus.

    You only need to stay in an entry level position for about six months before you can realistically transition into another position if your original position sucks. Always stay at least six months, optimally two years. Do not burn bridges, we have a big tech industry but word spreads fast.

    Always stay busy with personal projects. Set up a home SOC, help set up our SOC, work on open-source projects, volunteer with non-profits. Keep yourself busy. List out all the software / hardware you interacted with on your resume and LinkedIn. VMWare, Splunk, ELK, Cisco, QRadar, CentOS / Ubuntu, WireShark, protocols, programming languages, malware analysis / sandboxing, Windows Server, AWS, etc. A lot of the enterprise is available for free or on a trial basis that can be used by a homelab.

    You can buy an enterprise level server that's over 5 years old, but definitely sufficient, for $200 from a local recycler. For almost all of them consumer hard drives (SATA) are pluggable so you can bypass the expensive drives and underprovisioned storage. DDR3 RAM is cheap, Xeon processors that go with the DDR3 RAM is cheap, usually your local vendor that got you the cheap server has them. If you don't have local connections, ask in here, or if you really don't want to talk to people, is great. Cisco switches are also pretty cheap from recyclers. These are all power hungry and loud, be prepared.

    Don't expect HR or recruiters to treat your homelab or self study the same as work experience though; they want a big name attached to your experience. The key is this makes you competent enough to network and interview. Once the range becomes physical again, you can attach our name for whatever you contribute as long as your being honest. That carries much more weight.

    If you consider the cost of university in the first year, all of the above is much cheaper since your only expense is gas to meetups, clothes for an interview, hardware, and food/electricity/board. I estimate that to be about 10% of the cost for a year's worth of surviving higher education while staying on-campus. The main issue is that you have to be diligent about sticking to the plan; university offers structure that you'll need to create for yourself to get through this period. The difference is you'll accomplish in a year or two more than they can accomplish in four, and you'll be much less in debt and infinitely more useful to your employers.

    This has been my experience watching others succeed in software and others moving through their careers that I've met through the range.

  • @TheVillageIdiot Seriously helpful information...thanks. And the hardware cost information is a relief since I like to get by with minimal outlay until I can earn the upgrades. For now I'm getting by on a little HP Pavilion dv6 on which I recently installed Ubuntu alongside Windows 7.

    I'd probably be useless, or even in the way, helping someone set up a SOC, but I'd welcome any opportunity to get that sort of experience if only to help me mentally map things. Being close to Tucson, I'll hopefully meet up with some of the AZCWR people on the 30th, but if anyone hears of other opportunities between now and then, I'm all ears.

  • I created this yesterday and am posting it in the wild and saw Brett's post.

    The U.S. is facing a labor shortage of talented, qualified, and passionate cyber security candidates. The number of vacant positions is expected to grow each year. This is not a good sign, though, as the work being performed by those in the field is important and, at times, demanding.

    For each unfilled position, those already working are being expected to carry the load. This increases the chance of burnout and human error. An over worked security employee is going to spend less time reviewing an alarm. Be dismissive of potential dangers. Even worse is a passionate employee doing their best and not getting to an alarm or IoC before damage is done.

    An employee may be fired for negligence, which was created by the company, but that is OK, right? This newly freed person is in high demand and can find work else where likely making more money. This person taking their cavalier attitude with them and ultimately bringing nothing to the new company in value. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    The Arizona Cyber Warfare Range (AZCWR / NCWF) is working with cities, corporations, and educational entities. Helping create passionate and qualified Cyber Security Warriors. Giving them the skills they need to lead and confidence to make decisions. America does not need 3.5 million more open positions.

    We need leaders that understand the threats they face.
    We need leaders that understand there is no one SIEM to rule them all.
    We need leaders that understand a degree or certification does not mean skilled.

    The Arizona Cyber Warfare Range / National Cyber Warfare Foundation continues to produce the best and brightest. All we ask from our volunteers and learners is a desire to learn and willingness to fail. Join us in making a difference.

    AZCWR Forums

    “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison

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