Firstly, he cites the increasing number of people who achieve degrees compared to 50 years ago – Today’s degree, in some ways, is like like the old high school diploma.
Secondly, he cites evidence of ‘degree inflation’ in many sectors. For example 25 percent of people employed as insurance clerks have a BA, but twice that percentage of insurance-clerk job ads require one. Among executive secretaries and executive assistants, 19 percent of job-holders have degrees, but 65 percent of job postings mandate them
Secondly, despite the increasing number of people with degrees and the increasing requirement to have one to get your foot in the door, almost 40% of U.S. employers report difficulties in finding graduates with the right skills, which means (somewhat ironically) that many of the above degrees are useless in actually preparing people for work.
Slayback argues (pretty convincingly I think) that a degree is no longer sufficient to guarantee you a job; he also suggests that it may not actually be worth doing one (and in terms of getting you ready for work, I think he’s right, but not necessarily so in terms of the intrinsic worth of the uni experience and knowledge gained).
According to Slayback, in order to be successful, graduates need to get better at signalling their skills through social media, rather than relying on the simple fact that they’ve got a degree to so that for them. He even goes so far as to suggest that the internet itself is actually undermining the value of a degree.
He gives the example of a young man who connected with him on Linked In, and through a Google search, managed to get an insight into what he’d actually achieved, which made the fact that he didn’t have a degree irrelevant.
Personally I think Slayback has a point about the virtues of social media in signalling your skills – if you’re looking to go into a sector that requires you to produce content in any form, them it’s an obvious idea to have a social media platform where you show off that content, through which you can demonstrate your skills.
I’m not so convinced that it’s worth risking not doing a degree, maybe you’re better off doing one, but from day one thinking about how to leverage every essay you write or every project you do into something that you can use in the future to make you more employable…. two birds with one stone and all that….
Producing engaging written and audio visual resources
Evaluation and decision making based on standardized criteria
Presentation and communication skills
Simultaneous independent and collaborative working
Reflexivity, which incorporates flexibility.
Seven transferable skills which teachers can take with them to kinder careers
Given the depth and breadth of skill which teaching requires, combined with the unbearable amount of stress which teachers are expected to soak up, teaching is without doubt one of the most undervalued professions in the United Kingdom, and I’m fairly sure this is also the case in pretty much every country outside of Scandinavia.
Evidence for this (at least in the UK) lies in the fact that 30% of teachers quit within five years, and the thought of quitting is no doubt at the forefront of the majority of teachers’ minds towards the end of a long summer holiday; and no, a six week summer holiday is not enough compensation.
Just in case you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of undervalued teachers thinking of moving on, here’s a list of transferable skills which you can use to promote yourself to your next employer….
Producing written and audio visual resources that engage a differentiated audience for a sustained period (over month or years) – teachers are required not only to produce quality written ‘work sheets’ which are clearly written and structured, they also have to incorporate a range of audio visual (video/ podcast/ websites/ online tests) within these in order to engage learners. A related benefit is that teachers tend to have both sound levels of knowledge in their specific fields and excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation.*
Emotional Sensitivity – working with vulnerable children requires teachers to pick up on the special needs of students early on, which may not be communicated verbally by the students themselves. An extremely useful skill when working with a range of colleagues and clients in any profession.
Judgement and decision making – the ability to evaluate students’ work according to standardized criteria and provide constructive oral and written feedback to help students/ colleagues/ clients improve their performance in a timely fashion
Presentation skills – teaching requires the ability to present complex information in clear, concise and accessible manner, communicating the goals of lessons clearly to participants at the beginning of a particular session. It also involves the use of humor, analogies, examples, metaphors, stories, and delivery methods other than lecture or PowerPoint to engage an audience.
Facilitating participation through small and large group discussions – teaching involves doing a range of pair-work and discussion work in groups of 3-6, with feedback being given to the whole class. Teachers are experts in making sure everyone feels like they are participating and having a voice.
Independent and Collaborative working – teaching involves both working independently to plan lessons/ mark students work, while simultaneously working collaboratively with colleagues to share information about students in order to deliver the best outcome for students.
Reflexivity – The ability to continually reflect on one’s own performance and respond to constructive criticism based on feedback from peers and supervisors in order to improve one’s own performance. All of this has to be done within the context of shifting parameters of educational policy, so one also has to pick up new skills and knowledge in order to respond to systemic changes.
Sources and comments on other people’s lists of teaching transferable skills
I derived this list from the two lists below. Mine is better, but thanks to those who gave me a leg up!
Gina Smith from Branden University suggests the following list Of Top 20 Transferable-Skills:
Complex Problem Solving
Judgment and Decision Making
Lesson Plan Development
How useful is this list?
To be blunt, I don’t find this particularly useful – somehow the list manages to include too much information and not enough specificity both at the same time. If you were going to write a new C.V. in order to transition out of teaching, you would probably include all of the above words, but you’d be better off re categorizing them so you had fewer key-skills.
4. demonstrated problem solving skills/ability to learn new things quickly
5. demonstrated ability to work under pressure/in a fast paced, deadline-driven environment
How useful is this list?
Well it’s better than the above list because they’ve thought about the key ‘skill sets’ better – personally I think this is a nice, general list, and full disclosure, this guy also has another list of ’12 skills which teachers have’ which helped me a lot with writing the above post!
If, like me, you’re also thinking about quitting teaching, do get in touch.
*If you call me out on my own slightly dodgy grammar it WILL NOT be appreciated, in fact, regard yourself as having received a virtual slap if you’re one of the smug.
Below are six strategies that some people are currently employing (excuse the pun) to ‘earn money’ or simply get by in life which don’t involve doing paid-work for someone else, let alone requiring a degree.
Disclaimer – NB I don’t in any way recommend that you do any of these things, they are merely examples of things some people do, which should prompt discussion about whether doing a degree or an apprenticeship is worth it, relative to these alternative options.
1 – Learn to live without money
Two good examples include Mark Boyle: The Moneyless Man and Dan Suelo: The Man who Lived Without Money
2 – Perpetual travelling
The most obvious way to travel perpetually, at least in Europe, is to buy a van. It’s not that difficult – for inspiration have a look at Mike Hudson’s blog Van Dog Traveller – he quit his job in 2013, spent five months converting a van (for cheap) and has been travelling around Europe, including a quick jaunt to Morocco, ever since.
For advice on how to convert vans, check out Campervan Life which has lots of examples of people who have converted vans, and live in vans full-time. If you’re worried about how to earn money or live cheaply, all of that is covered on the above two sites, it’s generally part of the whole perpetual-traveller scene.
Incidentally, living in a van may sound like it’s an extreme strategy for saving money, and possibly only for top-knot sporting, fire-juggling, surfing dudes like Mike above, and you’d be forgiven for making this mistake given that one of the first search returns for ‘living in a van uk’ takes you to a forum called ‘UK HIPPY‘, but there are even members of the relatively conservative caravan club who have lived in their caravans long-term, combining this with either owning a small no-frills apartment, or house-sitting.
If the above example’s a bit too local and not adventurous enough for you, then why not try sailing around the world and documenting it on YouTube like one Australian couple’s currently doing on ‘La Vagabonde’
Somehow they’ve managed to convince almost 1000 people to subscribe to them through Patreon (see below) and are currently earning $6790 per video uploaded, and they post one a week, which gives them a cool $20K a month to sail on, or around $250 000 a year.
They even take this piss a bit – one of her videos is of her on a week’s yoga retreat in Bali, while the boat’s in dry dock somewhere in Australia.
Downsides to perpetual travelling
It does require some initial seed money to buy your van or boat.
Most ordinary people will have to find some way of making money as they travel – see below for ideas
Making money through documenting your travels may only be an option if you’re insanely attractive. Research has revealed that approximately 80% of people who follow travel blogs do so because they want to perv on the authors, not because they’re interested in their travels, although there’s no actual evidence to back this up.
3 – POOSHing and WWOOFing
ThePOOSH is an exchange site through which you can volunteer your labour to help people self-build their eco-projects around the globe, in exchange for free lodging (which will probably be camping) and food. Many of these projects are ‘low-impact’ design and don’t take a lot of skill to build – so you shouldn’t be any more out of your depth than the people building them.
Expect to be cutting, sawing, pounding (earth into tyres), stirring, plastering, and probably doing a lot of lugging about too. You’ll probably find thePOOSH Facebook page easier to browse rather than the web-site, which is a bit ‘not very professional’, but that’s forgiveable given that this is such a niche DIY exchange.
If the hard-labour involved with physical construction is too much for you, then ThePOOSH’s big sister network WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) Might be more your cup of tea. WWOOF says of itself….
‘WWOOF UK holds a list of organic farms, gardens and smallholdings, all offering food and accommodation in exchange for practical help on their land. WWOOF is an exchange – you volunteer your help in exchange for food, accommodation and an opportunity to learn about organic agriculture. As a WWOOFer, you can expect to work a reasonable number of hours – between 20 and 35 hours in a week is suggested. In order to volunteer on WWOOF host farms in the UK you must become a member of WWOOF UK. Membership lasts for 1 year.’
Downsides to POOSHing and WWOOFing
You need to be reasonably fit. I did have this down as an option for when I finish my current 20 year career break from life and resume living in a few years, but the older I get, the less-appealing the idea of hard physical labour seems.
Of course you don’t actually earn any money from this, you’re just working for board, and you’re reliant on your hosts to actually feed and house you properly.
From a leftist (Marxist) perspective, this voluntary work is somewhere on the softer side of the slave-labour spectrum, but that doesn’t seem to bother most members of the green movement – especially couples in their late 40s who have managed to accumulate sufficient capital to buy a small holding or some land and go and ‘live the dream’, but if you can put up with that, this does offer you a free way of life, assuming you get fed enough.
4 – Lifestyle Vlogging
LIfestyle vloggers Zoella and Alfie come across as a painfully ordinary **, and neither of them have anything of value to say about anything important. Thankfully for them there are millions of people around the world who are similarly shallow and lacking in imagination, and so they’ve managed to make a fortune by simply documenting their vacuous lives as consumers, which their similar-vanilla-fans seem to enjoy.
Case in point – in the video below (posted less than a week ago from time of writing and with over 600, 000 views already – which represents some serious coin in YouTube terms) Zoella and Alfie go and do some watersports.
The point here however is not to criticise the lack of content, the point is to point out that if this pair of completely average vanilla vloggers can make a living through not really doing anything very much, why not give it a go yourself before you try actually earning your money?
If the idea of making money by exposing your vacuousness makes you uncomfortable, then you could always develop a vlog or blog as a marketing tool and produce a series of blogs or vlogs which have an actual, worthwhile focus, by providing useful information to people and/ or selling goods and services. Of course here we’re moving away from ‘alternatives’ to careers, and more into the ordinary realms of setting up your own business – but I thought it’s worth including, because it’s still not the same as working for someone else.
Look on YouTube – there are plenty of people who have set up as personal trainers, or food writers, or life-coaches who are making money out of blogging about something they’re interested in.
One of my favourite ‘alternative lifestyle’ vloggers that does have something worthwhile to say is Jesse Grimes – who is currently building his own house, and ‘Permaculturing’ an acre of land in Montana. If you want to get into vlogging, maybe think about doing something of some value like he does….?
It’s very unlikely you’ll earn enough money survive by producing a Zoella lifestyle vlog in which you simply document yourself playing at life.
If you do become successful, not only are you exposing your vacuousness to the world, you’ll also attract haters and sufficient numbers of people will think you’ve forgone your right to privacy to make your life a misery.
As with travel blogging, you probably have to be insanely attractive, or insanely unattractive, or extreme in some sort of way to ‘earn’ a living through vlogging.
5. Matched betting
Matched betting is legal, tax-free and not actually gambling. It takes a while to get your head around it, but it is possible to make £500 risk-free in a month, although you do need a few hundred quid ‘seed money’ to start out. You might end up making less than that, but with a little bit of time each day (20 mins is sufficient) you should be able to earn at least £100 a month, and with practice more.
The Matched Betting Blog (run by a guy who is making around £8K a year doing this) defines ‘Matched betting as ‘a simple betting strategy that enables us to take advantage of bookmaker’s offers and incentives. We simply place a bet at a bookmaker and then bet against the same outcome at a betting exchange. By covering all possible outcomes, we make guaranteed risk-free profits regardless of the result.’
Oddsmonkey is a good place to get started – there are five free guides which will show you how to make an estimated £45 in under an hour, and after that, you will need to pay £15 a month in a subscription fee.
Matched-betting isn’t for everyone – some of the downsides are:
You need to double-check every bet you make and lay – one small slip could cost you tens or hundreds of pounds and wipe out your ‘earnings for a whole week’
You need a few hundred quid to start off – you need to open several betting accounts – maybe dozens to make the most of every offer, and because so much money is floating around, you need hundreds in ‘betting capital’ to make things tick over smoothly.
There is the risk of ‘gubbing’ – having your account frozen by bookmakers – they keep tabs on people – and if all you’re betting on is the special free bet offers, they’ll close you down – hence you need to make ‘mug bets’ to cover your trail (all of this is covered on the two web sites above)
It’s little bit seedy!
6 – Create something and crowdsource funding through Kickstarter or Patreon
Kickstarter is basically about selling your project to people before it’s completed.
As a creator, you outline what your project is, put together a short promotional video and some blurb illustrating what the project is about, decide how much funding you require to see your project through, and offer rewards to backers who will pledge different amounts of money to get various levels of reward which they’ll receive when your project is completed.
In the example above, the creator’s rewards (which are listed further down his Kickstarter page include a ‘Facebook’ shout-out for $5, a download of the movie for $10 and then upwards. As you can see, at almost $40K he hasn’t done too badly…
Patreon is similar to Kickstarter, but rather than people paying you once you’ve finished one massive project, with Patreon, people agree to provide ongoing funding for the smaller-scale things you’re already creating (so Patreon’s funding per song, Kickstarter, funding by album)
Patreon says of itself…
For creators, Patreon is a way to get paid for creating the things you’re already creating (webcomics, videos, songs, whatevs). Fans pledge a few bucks per month OR per thing you release, and then you get paid every month, or every time you release something new (whether it’s on SoundCloud, YouTube, your own website, or anywhere).
For patrons, Patreon is a way to pay your favorite creators for making the stuff you love. Instead of literally throwing money at your screen (trust us, that doesn’t work), you can now pledge a few bucks per thing that a creator makes. For example, if you pledge $2 per video, and the creator releases 3 videos in February, then your card gets charged a total of $6 that month. This means the creator gets paid regularly (every time she releases something new), and you become a bonafide, real-life patron of the arts
Conclusions – Should you do a degree and/ or pursue a regular career, or do something different instead?
I wouldn’t dismiss the idea of pursuing a career (I’ve actually found my own personal career in teaching A level Sociology quite rewarding), or doing a degree (I’ve got 3 of them), in fact I’d recommend either, when and if the time’s right for you. If that time isn’t now, why not leave it a while and pursue one or more of the above alternatives for a while?
There are of course various other alternatives to a regular career which you could consider, and if I’ve got time I’ll bash out another post covering the pros and cons of options such as becoming a monk or marrying the money/ becoming a prostitute.
*When I were a lad things were easy: after I’d finished my A levels and my Dad justifiably booted me out the house shortly afterwards, I spent 3 months doing farm-work, 3 months homeless and begging and then a further 18 months in a house but on the doll, mostly tossing about chilling, juggling (I got quite good) and reading, before starting a degree in Anthropology and American Studies a full 2 years and 3 months after my A levels had finished.
The problem these days is that you’ll never compete with agricultural workers from Eastern Europe for fruit picking jobs (and fruit-picking sucks); and the state and people in general aren’t quite as generous, which rules out the doll and begging as viable alternatives, so you’d need to be more somewhat more creative to avoid doing either a degree or getting a job for a couple of years or more.
** In fact they’re not normal – Zoella at least was privately educated, which means she comes from the wealthiest 7% of households – which probably goes some way to explaining why she had the confidence and time to start vlogging in the first place – the private school gave her the confidence, and daddy (probably, more likely than mummy) would have paid for the stuff crucial to her style of vlogging. If she’d have been poorer, she would have had to have spend more time working for a living, and less time making pointless videos. I don’t know about Alfie’s background, I can’t be bothered to research it.
So you’re 17 going on 18 and it seems like the end of A levels are ages away, but for some reason your damn tutors keep haranguing you about about preparing for your future career NOW. When it comes to career readiness, there is no such thing as enough, even if you are going to university and possibly putting off the final choice of your ‘career pathway’ for another three or four years, there are still things you can be doing NOW to make you more employable in the future.
You know the sort of thing…
First of all there’s the ‘online careers survey’ which asks you to tick a load of boxes about whether you’re a ‘team player’ or like to ‘work independently’, on the basis of which you’re given a whole load of possible career options, most of which probably won’t sound that exciting. (I think these surveys may lack some validity – my ideal-career doesn’t seem to match any combination of answers I’ve tried: ‘lounging around in bed ’til about 10.00 and then strolling into to town for a Cappuccino every day’ never seems to come up as a viable option).
Once you’ve chosen a career, it’s increasingly likely that you’ll have to do some sort of work experience in that general area, not only to prove that you’ve got a basic level of competency, but also to provide some evidence of commitment to this career-path. Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to have a part-time job in area you want to go into. I say lucky, but either option sounds pretty grim to me – the former will probably involve giving up some of that holiday time to work for nothing, which is a bit of a rub, while the later probably involves doing enough hours a week while at college to make balancing paid-work, college-work, family and social commitments something of a challenge.
Incidentally, if you’re putting this phase off by going to university, you may not escape it, given that we live in the age of the unpaid-internship, especially if you want to get into any of the higher-end professions such as journalism.
(What’s also interesting here is that it’s up to you to prove commitment to a career-path before you set out on it, while your employer, in this age of flexibilised labour, is unlikely to offer you the same.)
Thirdly, and finally for now, you need to build a C.V. – Assuming you’ve got a decent set of qualifications and some work experience, and know your name and address, the first half a page is easy enough, but then things can get difficult because filling in the rest of it requires you to have engaged in quite a few ‘C.V. Able activities. And if all you’ve done these past few years outside of school and college is flit between YouTube, twitter and Whatsapp, then you’d better get of your ass and go and join a gymnastics club, take up horse riding, volunteer with your local church, and apply for and WIN the young apprentice, even though you’re probably too old for that already.
Indeed, when it comes to work readiness, there is never such a thing as enough. This is because we live in an economically insecure world, and the cause of this insecurity is that global capital is freer today than ever to move around the globe to seek short-term profit and then uproot at a moment’s notice to seek greater profit elsewhere. As it stands there are no global institutions capable of controlling global capital (the Nation State is declining in power) and so this global economic context of ‘Flexibilised Capitalism’ is likely to remain.
What this means is that it isn’t just NOW that you can never do enough to get ready for your that future career (which you may not even be certain about yet), but that in the future you will constantly have to update yourself to keep pace with an ever-changing labour market. Below are a few of the key reasons why you have to spend so much time and effort making yourself employable, and why you will need to continue to do so in the future…
Firstly – ‘Technological Dislocation’ could be set to reduce the number of jobs available in the future. A recent post from The Economist summarises the situation thus….
‘Technological dislocation may create great problems for moderately skilled workers in the coming decades… innovation has speeded up a lot in the past few years and will continue at this pace, for three reasons: the exponential growth in computing power; the progressive digitisation of things that people work with, from maps to legal texts to spreadsheets; and the opportunities for innovators to combine an ever-growing stock of things, ideas and processes into ever more new products and services. Between them, these trends might continue to “hollow out” labour markets as more and more jobs requiring medium levels of skill are automated away.”
This is the first reason you have to increase your effort to be employable now and in the future – because not only are their fewer jobs and thus more competition, it is impossible to tell what jobs are going to disappear and what new opportunities may arise (which will require retraining) because of technological change.
Secondly, it is cheaper for employers to pay a smaller amount of employees for long hours (50-60 hours a week say) rather than to duplicate the costs of such things as training, holiday pay and pensions contributions by employing a larger workforce part-time.
This means you may well end up in a nice job that you want, but with no choice but to work hours that prevent you from having anything like a social life, let alone a family.
Thirdly, Capital today is more free-floating than ever, in other words it is free to leave this country at a moment’s (or no) notice if it can find labour cheaper somewhere else. This has already happened in the low-skilled manufacturing sector, but it could just as easily happen with higher skilled, techno and creative jobs, especially when much work today can be done in a virtual environment and the costs to Capital of uprooting and relocating are no where near as expensive when it doesn’t have to rebuild expensive ‘heavy’ factories. The chances are, if you end up being employed by a global company (or contracting yourself out to one) your job is likely to be increasingly insecure as the years ‘progress’ – given that you are competing with millions of other employees who are just as well qualified as you from lower-income countries.
Thus, in the future, be ready for periods of unemployment as your employer moves to countries with a cheaper source of labour leaving you to seek new employment (which is likely to get harder the older you get).
Fourthly, the primary source of profit for the Capitalist Class is to encourage consumers to consume more and more products and services at an ever faster rate – thus there is pressure for technologies, software, fashions etc. become obsolete at an ever faster rate, to have an ever shorter shelf-life – thus you are unlikely to be able to rest on your laurels – The software skills you learn in university may be obsolete when you start work, and that idea that made your company a fortune today will be superseded by someone else’s idea tomorrow, leaving you in the position to have to constantly update your knowledge and generate new ideas.
Yes, all in all, sorry to say it, but I’m glad I’m not 17, even though I had hair then. And I’m also glad I’ll be retired fairly soon, spending my days drinking my real ales, smoking ma cigars and, if they still exist, leisurely leafing through some ole school broadsheets.
Don’t like the sound of your flexibilised, insecure future – then what to do???
The mainstream starting-point strategy suggests that you should position yourself into the core of highly educated, highly skilled knowledge workers. This is the best way of guaranteeing yourself a high income and relatively secure employment (and if not secure at least well-paid enough to be able to endure short periods of unemployment between contracts).
The problem with this strategy is that it is only the extreme minority of people in the UK are going to be able to get skilled up to this level – What proportion of the population? 5%, maybe 10%? Certainly no more. And even for this top 5-10%, in a globalising ‘converging world’ where more and more people are educated up to degree level (especially in Asia) there is simply going to be more competition for these types of job, so the only way for this proportion is down.
By all means, try and land one of these jobs, but in the meantime, because you’ve got more chance of not getting a decent job than you have of getting one, you should also consider how you can minimise your dependence on money and thus dependence on a salary, because you may not end up having a choice in the matter.