Return on Education

 In Executive Strategy, Global Trends, Musings, News, Trends

After reading two articles from the Economist this week (found here and here), I’ve begun applying myself much, much harder to my adult-learning Polish class. According to the authors, we — both as Americans and human beings — are facing an “onrushing wave” of technological unemployment. One of the articles cites an Oxford study claiming “47% of today’s jobs could be automated in the next two decades.” Yikes.

So why am I digging harder into the complexities and cases of the Polish language? Because, as both articles imply, education is the strongest means by which to maintain and retain your job. Languages, for instance, are something unlikely to be replaced by computers anytime soon. We have Google Translate and all sorts of other dictionary tools, but machine translation just isn’t there yet. (I personally don’t believe it’ll happen soon, if ever. Here’s a NYT op-ed about why.) Language skills will therefore always be in demand. I’m lucky in that regard.

But education isn’t just limited to language, nor is it limited to the classroom. Some of the obvious areas of educational interest are computers, coding, computing, hardware, software, etc. Everyone from edX to Khan Academy is offering online classes, often in “standard” (or soon-to-be standard) skills like HTML, CSS, Java, and Python. And those classes are free. Sitting down for an hour or two a week may eventually be the difference between losing a job and keeping one. Even if your job isn’t in doubt, learning to script could improve your efficiency; you could automate tasks to decrease your work time and workload. That’s definitely worth it, right?

This could be you.

Education can also mean something as simple as learning to be a better manager, to connect dots and navigate trends, or to become a better salesperson. At PlazaBridge Group, we continually strive to learn, relearn, and reteach business skills. Oftentimes they’re the most easily forgotten. Some people might consider these “soft skills,” but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. CEOs with coding capabilities still need to know how to operate a business, raise capital, and innovate new products. Entry-level employees need to understand management styles so they can react better to them. We all have something new to learn.

The onrushing wave predicted by the two aforementioned articles does indeed scare me. I barely know how to code and I’m not knowledgeable or experienced enough to manage and grow a company. But I’m going to continue to educate myself in order to stay afloat. I encourage you to jump aboard with me.

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