I recently came across this article in the WSJ: The Declining Value Of Your College Degree. It says:College-educated workers are more plentiful, more commoditized and more subject to the downsizings that used to be the purview of blue-collar workers only. What employers want from workers nowadays is more narrow, more abstract and less easily learned in college.
To be sure, the average American with a college diploma still earns about 75% more than a worker with a high-school diploma and is less likely to be unemployed. Yet while that so-called college premium is up from 40% in 1979, it is little changed from 2001…
I thought this was really interesting, especially because it ties some of these effects to outsourcing and globalization. I know from my personal experience that I often use to outsource projects overseas where I can do them cheaper, years ago before telecommuting was a viable option I would have likely chosen a local junior contractor to do that work.
One thing the article does emphasize is the importance of passion, ambition and specialization. The article talks about one man who works doing “catastrophe bonds” and is so specialized that he has consistently seen his salary grow (and this has not been the case for other educated employees who have seen their market rate decrease over the last several years). This is a very important lesson for younger students to work hard and strive to hone their professional skills. While I can’t speak to the value of specialization (since I just tend to focus on hiring the smartest people I can with the right attitude), I can speak to looking for ambitious and hard working individuals.
The other key takeaway from this article is that there is no such thing as job security. Having worked at large corporations you often hear misguided employees say things like their position is great because of the “security”. But having eliminated positions and seen big branches and organizations close down, I know that these ideals are more of a falsehood than reality. When you think about your job you should not focus on stability as a driving factor. Steve Pavlina wrote a great article on why you should not get a job. I agree with him, you should try to find something you are passionate about and focus your energy on that–start your own company or join a startup–just don’t be complacent and fall victim to false security.