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WSJ: Companies Have to Teach Workers Skills that They Didn’t Learn in College

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The Associated Press

Companies are realizing that they have to train new workers to learn job skills that they failed to learn in college, according to a new Wall Street Journal report.

A new column published last week in the Wall Street Journal revealed that a four-year college degree might actually hinder an employee’s readiness to complete job-specific tasks after hiring.

The report revealed that AT&T is spending more than $1 billion to train their employees on how to perform various tasks at the evolving telecommunications company. Some attribute this to the amount of time new employees spend in college learning skills that they will never apply on the job.

According to employer surveys, only half of college graduates end up landing a job that allows them to utilize the skills they learned in their degree program.

Some employers have encouraged reliance on bachelor’s degrees as a proxy for skills by requiring a diploma for jobs that didn’t previously require one, Mr. Fuller said. But such degree requirements are limiting the number of applicants for a job and increasing costs for companies and employees. They also lead to frustration for workers, since fewer than half of people who enroll in college end up graduating and landing a job that utilizes their degree, he said.

Some, including Dr. Ed Schweitzer, a former electrical engineering professor, argues that the current educational system may prevent great minds from breaking into the field in which they could make a great impact.

“If Thomas Edison walked through the door today, would we turn him away because we don’t have a job opening for an inventor?” Dr. Schweitzer said.
Now, some industries are starting to shift their focus away from a potential employee’s degree and towards their skillset and aptitude for the development of job-relevant skills. Startups like Praxis are even encouraging high school students to skip college in favor of a paid apprenticeship that provides an opportunity to earn money while gaining skills alongside professionals who ultimately may end up providing them with a job offer.

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