In the future, will we acquire skills, not degrees?
Nontraditional education options are on the rise.
- U.S. college enrollment has declined for the eighth consecutive year.
- Recent survey found that a majority of freelancers found skills training to be more important than having a degree.
- It's becoming harder for universities to keep up with a rapidly changing workforce.
It should come as no surprise to mostly anyone who is paying attention, that we're in a seriously fast moving and complex technology-driven economy. One of the likes we've never seen before and one that's only going to get wilder.
Disruption in every corner of the economy and our society at large has become the rule and not the exception. Some areas are speeding along faster than others. The latest institution in the crosshairs of progress? The American university. With antiquated systems still in place, a fading relevancy, and inability to keep up with an evolving workforce — the degree system we've used as a crutch for merit this century is coming to its end.
College enrollment decline
New data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has found that college enrollment in the U.S. has again decreased for its eighth consecutive year. The report covers up to 97 percent of enrollments within the country at degree-granting postsecondary institutions.
The report goes into a detailed breakdown on degrees, age ranges, and location. It's worth checking out as it could be indicative of a much larger trend. While there are some new growing areas of study — we can always speculate on the best college majors of the future — the overarching trend, in both quantitative measures and cultural sentiment, is one of a future geared towards skills, not degrees.
Increasingly there are more and more renowned and prestigious companies that no longer require a college degree for work. Recently Glassdoor created a list of major companies where a degree wasn't required. Some included powerhouses such as Apple and Google. Why the sudden cultural shift from the bigwigs?
It's a common trend that many people go to college only to end up getting a job that doesn't relate in any way to what they studied. Major corporations are starting to realize that. Right now, a great deal of companies that still require degrees seem to be using the degree as a signal or key. A key that gets you in the door and tells your potential employer that you have completed something all the way through and are reliable. At least on paper, anyway. . .
Accredited skills and experience matters the most
One of the fastest growing areas of work is within the freelancing community or "gig economy." A recent survey titled Freelancing in America 2018 found that 93 percent of freelancers with four year degrees said that skills training was more useful than their degree. A majority of 70 percent of freelancers participated in new skills training within the past six months, compared to only 49 percent of full-time non-freelancers that didn't do any skills training in that same time frame.
This data leads us to the root of what's been happening in the workforce this past decade. Exponential technological change paired with absurd educational costs and, of course, the 4 year minimum time sink — has made the university system, a difficult path to commit to and choose. The cost of a college education isn't directly correlated anymore with your potential future earnings.
A lot of what is being taught in college has no bearing or relevance on the day-to-day functions of a real job. Yet, there is still this perception that degrees are some kind of holy constitution of mastery over your topic of study. For doctors or other highly advanced degrees, that may still be true for now. But more often than not, your professional competency has nothing to do with what you learned in school.
Take programming, for instance. For a dynamic skill like web development, information from a few years ago is already irrelevant. Those who are actually professionals need to be active in a dynamic community and constantly stay up to date with the technology.
Writers and marketers can't afford to be trapped for four years in a room with a blackboard and a tenured professor that can't log into his own email account. While you were toiling away reading Chaucher and learning how to format an outdated market research plan, this friggin' guy learned everything he needed to know from a bargain blog and is running ads on a social platform that didn't exist a year ago. . .
Knowledge is not static. The old hyper-specialized cog is not the ideal worker anymore. The archetype of this workforce era is the Renaissance (wo)man.
Freelancers understand that. Even if you do have a diploma or intend on getting one, the mindset of always learning is the new way. A 2016 World Economic forum found that in most industries and countries, the most in-demand jobs and specialties were jobs that were just created in the past five years.
While a majority of schools are not keeping up with the real world, there are a few initiatives attempting to remedy this problem.
Lumina foundation's solutions for knowledge advancement
One such organization concerned about the future of education is the Lumina foundation. Their recent 2019 Education Innovation Prize challenge, sought to challenge competition entrants to find better solutions for after high school education.
Miami-Dade College's Accelerated Credential Training and Skills (MDC ACTS) program took home the first place prize this year. They've created something called the earn-and-learn model. Working with a number of different employers, they've developed 12 week programs to provide continual technical training. People will be provided on the job training, while also receiving hourly pay and a round of guaranteed job interviews. Successful graduates earn credentials that they can then use for further learning and even greater job opportunities.
Executive vice president of the project, Lenore Rodicio talks about how an initiative like this will allay some major problems that young adults face.
"For some, the decision about whether to stay in school can come down to a choice between putting food on the table or going to class. We hope that with our earn-and-learn model, fewer people will have to make that choice. . . It allows students to remain in school while earning a wage, raise their skills in high-demand local industries, and have an entry point to a higher education pathway."
It only makes sense that businesses, and even some colleges, retune their approach to both skill acquisition and employment.
- 7 most valuable college majors for the future ›
- America needs faster and cheaper education pathways to good jobs - Big Think ›
Researchers documented the most common negative side effects of smoking weed, and who might be most susceptible.
- A team of researchers identified a total of 26 possible adverse reactions to cannabis use.
- Coughing fits, anxiety, and paranoia are among the top three most common adverse reactions to smoking weed.
- It was the people who smoke on a less frequent basis who were more likely to have had the bad experiences.
The most common adverse effects of pot<p>As it turns out, coughing fits are among the top three most common adverse reactions to cannabis use, along with anxiety and paranoia, according to a new study published in the <em>Journal</em><a href="https://jcannabisresearch.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42238-019-0013-x" target="_blank"><em> of Cannabis Research</em></a>. </p><p>Now that weed is legal in the state, a team of researchers at Washington State University sought to document potential negative reactions to cannabis in order to paint a detailed picture of the effects of smoking weed for newbies. The authors surveyed more than 1,500 college students on the specific type and frequency of adverse reactions they had experienced while using pot. Additionally, the students in the study were surveyed about their demographics, personality traits, reasons for using cannabis and their use patterns. </p><p>Despite marijuana's <a href="https://bigthink.com/sex-relationships/marijuana-sex" target="_self">numerous benefits</a>, the team identified a total of <a href="https://jcannabisresearch.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42238-019-0013-x/tables/2" target="_blank">26 possible adverse reactions to</a> the drug. More than half of the study participants reported having coughing fits along with anxiety and/or paranoia while using cannabis. The most frequently occuring of these were the coughing fits, along with chest/lung discomfort and body humming. A subset of the study group reported these reactions occurring around 30–40% of the time they were using pot. On the flip side, the three <em>least</em>-commonly reported reactions to cannabis use were fainting, visual hallucinations and cold sweats. </p><p>"There's been surprisingly little research on the prevalence or frequency of various adverse reactions to cannabis and almost no research trying to predict who is more likely to experience these types of adverse reactions," <a href="https://news.wsu.edu/2020/03/30/new-research-sheds-light-potentially-negative-effects-cannabis/" target="_blank">said Carrie Cuttler</a>, assistant professor of psychology and an author on the paper, according to WSU News. "With the legalization of cannabis in Washington and 10 other states, we thought it would be important to document some of this information so that more novice users would have a better sense of what types of adverse reactions they may experience if they use cannabis."</p><p>The most distressing of the 26 negative reactions were panic attacks, fainting, and vomiting. Yet, the survey data suggested that cannabis users generally do not find even acute adverse reactions to cannabis to be severely distressing.</p>
What causes a bad reaction?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkwOTEwOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTQ5MDQ2Mn0.S2Pkbh3VAgB4Gk5tkavamMv0_4t76dg65yGWpCHG17U/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1872%2C0%2C1252&height=700" id="dee45" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="df6e30ecae156ba0012f4773a374800c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.
Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
- A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
- This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
- The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.
Maybe you should enjoy this article with a cup of coffee or tea.<p> The <a href="https://drc.bmj.com/content/8/1/e001252?T=AU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> involved 4,923 type 2 diabetics living in Japan. The average participant was 66 years old. All of the participants were taken from the rolls of the Fukuoka Diabetes Registry, a study geared at learning about the effects of new treatments and lifestyle changes on the health of diabetics. <br> <br> The participants filled out questionnaires concerning their health, diet, habits, and other factors. Among the questions were two focused on determining how much green tea or coffee, if any, the participants consumed over the course of a week. The health of the participants was recorded for five years. During this time, 309 of the test subjects died from a variety of causes. <br> <br> Subjects who drank more than one cup of tea or coffee per day demonstrated lower odds of dying than those who had none. Those who consumed the most tea and coffee, more than four and two cups a day, respectively, enjoyed the most significant reductions in their risk of death. This level of consumption was associated with a 40 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201020190129.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p><p>Most interestingly, the effects of drinking tea and coffee appear to combine to reduce risk even further. Those who reported drinking two or three cups of tea a day and two or more cups of coffee were 51 percent less likely to die during the study, while those who drank a whopping four or more cups of tea and two or more cups of coffee had a 63 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diabetes-coffee-and-green-tea-might-reduce-death-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p>
So, should I start swimming in a vat of coffee and green tea?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LY0E-JQxeoY" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Not quite. </p><p> The primary takeaway from this study is that Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes who drink a lot of green tea and/or coffee die less often than similar people who do not. If this effect is caused by something in the drink, lifestyle choices people who drink that much tea all make, or something else remains unknown. The finding must be considered an association at this point. <br> <br> The eye-popping reductions in mortality rates are compared to the risk of death of others in the study. The people who died reported drinking less tea and coffee than those who lived. Unless you have several demographic and conditional similarities to the subjects of this study, you probably won't suddenly be at a two-thirds lower risk of death than your peers because you drink green tea. </p><p> Like all studies that depend on self-reporting, it is also possible that people misstated how much they consumed any one item. The study also did not look into other factors like socioeconomic status or education level, also known to impact death rates and potentially linked to coffee and tea consumption. </p><p> However, it is yet another study in the pile that suggests that <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">coffee</a> and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">green tea</a> are good for you. That much is increasingly <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/health-benefits-linked-to-drinking-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">agreed</a><a href="https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/health-benefits-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> upon</a>. This study also suggests the benefits are additive, which is a new development.</p><p><br> So, while it isn't time to start the IV drip of green tea, a cup or two probably won't <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20201022/coffee-green-tea-might-extend-life-for-folks-with-type-2-diabetes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hurt</a>. </p>
But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.
On Sept. 9, many West Coast residents looked out their windows and witnessed a post-apocalyptic landscape: silhouetted cars, buildings and people bathed in an overpowering orange light that looked like a jacked-up sunset.