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Learning Vs Credentialing

Learning Vs Credentialing

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 303).

I read a great opinion piece recently (shout out to Prof G) that observed the best run, most efficient cartel in North America is the university system.

Universities seem to have morphed into a luxury brand and debt trap. They suck in people who would be better off doing apprenticeships or learning applied skills on the job. They boast about how many people they reject to create exclusivity, which is gross, and do not expand capacity to move fees lower. They do all this while being subsidized by tax payers money.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want to be a licensed professional such as a lawyer or engineer, you do need a four year degree. However, even that is a rigged game to create local monopolies, let me explain.

In the past to qualify as a lawyer you could “article” for 5 years then take the Bar exam and become licensed, no degree required. Over time, licensing organizations with encouragement from universities, started to require law school then also require a bachelors degree so now you need 6 years at university plus training, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a job that will be highly automated in the near future.

It is not much better for engineers. There used to be paths to licensing or chartered status with combinations of technical college and structured on the job training. Those paths are becoming harder to find or being taken away.

IMHO, licensing and certifications are local monopolies that are really about signaling (credentialing) and excluding rather than expanding professional career opportunities. They are filters that favour those who can access money and time to play the university or college game. Employers have managed to exclude themselves from this game and now find they are offered graduates that do no meet their needs.

Universities provide education rather than applied, vocational training. Whilst gaining an education in the fundamentals is important, it is skills, ability and mastery that employers really want. IMHO, the 4 year engineering degree would be more useful to students and employers if it was two years of fundamentals then 2 years of applied, vocational training.

Having been an employer in the property sector I have come to understand there is a real gap in the education process. There is an educational gap in the “how to” part of learning, leading to unskilled yet over educated college and university graduates.

What the property industry needs are people that have an education plus vocational instruction that delivers “learning” i.e. the “how to”.

The current educational system needs to pivot away from credentialing and move towards actual learning delivered by a combination of academics plus experienced, industry practitioners who can help develop real world skills that prepare people for the work place.

Academics teach:

• The fundamentals
• The “why”
• The “what

Experienced, industry practitioners teach:

• Linkages between fundamentals and real world
• Applied theory
• The “how to”

IMHO, employers need to reengage with the educational and training establishment to demand better outcomes.

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer



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