The Class of 2013 and What's Wrong With the Greatest Nation

  |  June 12, 2013   |  Comments

There are plenty of jobs here in the digital marketing industry, but no college graduates with any real skills.

Congratulations, you have your college degree and now have something to show for those four or so years of hard work and hangovers. Only problem is…that degree isn't worth a whole lot. Worse, you have no skills! Yep, it's a problem. It's not your fault, your daddy's fault, or even your professors' fault, but it's the case and it's systemic.

Here in the digital industry we have way too many job openings and not enough qualified people to fill them. Just ask anyone in management at a big tech company, say Facebook, or even a small agency, and they'll tell you they need good people and fast. It's not just in digital but also in most tech or high-growth sectors. America (and the world for that matter) doesn't have a "jobs creation" problem…we have an education problem, folks.

And it could solve our jobs problem for good if we get it right. But there are a few hurdles and many interests to overcome to get there.

Allow me to use the digital and Internet marketing industry as your use case of "plenty-o-jobs, but nada on skillz" to demonstrate exactly what is happening here. But first let's just address the big macro problem. Our education system sucks!

It sucks because it doesn't teach students any real-life practical skills. Say, how to build a website or how to send an email campaign. Basics for millions of jobs.

It sucks because it's outrageously expensive to the point of being unlawful. How can a 30 percent increase year-over-year be sustainable? Caveat emptor has no place here. What happened to the land of opportunity? It's all sitting in the dean's pockets!

It sucks because it ruins your dreams; the best time to dream and do what your heart tells you. Students end up thinking, "I have all this student debt to pay, and pay now, so I'll take the first best paying job that comes my way."

So you come out of school and wonder, "Wait, what just happened?!" I paid all this money just to say I have a degree? And then I don't get a job or anything close to what interests me?"

But there is hope. And that's why so many people are excited about the e-learning and education technology space. Billions of dollars are being invested in new companies. Millions of hours in recording content and some really good stuff are starting to bubble to the top. And guess what? It's cheap and in many cases free. You can now learn marketing job skills for less than that dinner you bought your girlfriend on Friday.

Moreover, it's highly distributable. So, now the best minds with the best teaching can literally teach the world through this cool new thing called the Internet! Just think about the implications of that poor girl in Haiti (seen in the "Girl Rising" movie and related movement) who is stoked to go to school, won't stop until she can, and is wide-eyed and filled with possibility. What if we can say, "Hey, you may not have the money to pay for school, but go to the local library or get on your phone and watch these classes and learn from the dean of Stanford, or the founder of Google, or the world's best email marketer"? How incredible is that?

And it's here.

But first, let's agree to put these schools - or so-called "universities" - in their places. Could you imagine if we all agreed to "Occupy University Street" and boycott college for one year? Force 'em to lower prices and adjust admissions? Yep, I have a smile on my face, too. To a certain degree, we can. We can start asking, emailing, and writing letters to the effect of, "When can I watch some classes online?" You can also find some great career vocational-focused content out there, such as for software, Team Treehouse for coding, and the Online Marketing Institute for digital marketing (disclosure: my company).

Let's make our voices heard with our dollars and start focusing on career education, not the Greek philosophy.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.


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Aaron Kahlow

After selling the Online Marking Summit (OMS) event company in 2011, Aaron is now leading the charge of the newest venture, the Online Marketing Institute - an e-learning platform and training destination for digital marketing education.

Kahlow is one of the most recognized thought-leaders in the digital marketing and social media space. Having founded, funded, and built three prolific and highly profitable digital marketing companies, Kahlow has also delivered hundreds of marquee keynote speeches around the globe. He is a recognized author, columnist (ClickZ, NYT) and authority on social media marketing, sales and marketing integration, demand generation, business-to-business marketing, search marketing, usability, analytics, and digital marketing strategy.

Today, Aaron can be found in his new home city of San Francisco, working on the global expansion of "Teaching the World Digital" in his e-learning technology venture, the Online Marketing Institute. Facebook and LinkedIn are his preferred places to connect.

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