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Tech report sidelines the community college

A.Team and MassChallenge have released the first-ever Tech Work Report, which surveyed nearly 600 tech industry leaders. The results create a picture of the state of tech work in the US. Naturally, the results spell trouble for a community college.

Although the survey respondents blame their tech sourcing woes on “the Great Resignation,” that’s probably not what’s happening. What should be troubling, especially for community colleges is this finding:

8 out of 10 survey respondents said they were willing to hire someone without a college degree for any role.

A growing number of people have figured out that they can make as much or more without a college degree as with. Combine that with the eighty percent of tech executives who are now fairly certain that a college degree is not a requirement to perform any job, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. (For the community college, anyway.)

A few days ago, I suggested that it was counterproductive for higher education institutions to ask business executives what they wanted in employees. This is proof. Eight out of ten of them don’t believe it’s a college degree. (So why should higher education institutions waste one second of time trying to conform their degree programs to the ill-informed requirements of business executives?)

The bad news continues. The current economy has not dampened their appetites for hiring. Nearly 50% say they intend to keep hiring into the next six months. When the authors limited the focus of the question to companies classified as “mature startups” or better, that figure moved to 60%. In fact, just 16% of respondents indicated that their companies had significantly or moderately decreased their hiring plans for the near future.

The community college must reckon with self-employment

And the report keeps piling on. Self-employment accounts for fully one-third of the growth in the current labor force. In case you’re not paying attention to that, self-employment subtracts from the available labor pool. In many cases, self-employed persons are freelancers. That’s critical because nearly half of survey respondents said that freelancers make up one quarter or more of their workforce.

And self-employment has a lot to recommend it. Nearly three-fourths of freelance workers report higher job satisfaction compared to workers on someone else’s payroll. Seven out of ten report that they have substantially better financial opportunities and work-life balance.

So, in the community college’s myopic mission to “meet the needs of employers” what is the strategy when the student is the employer? Is that what it will take to get the community college to acknowledge and address the needs of the student?

There is opportunity here. Creating workers who are prepared to fill the seemingly endless needs of the tech sector as well as manage the realities of working independently would fill the needs of the workplace in a way that also benefits and empowers the worker. Additionally, that approach will prepare the student for long-term employment opportunities.

The current rapid training/certificate approach that WCC has unfortunately adopted does not seem to recognize the intrinsic value of building skills that translate to steady, long-term employment. The result of this disastrous strategy is that employers are now willing to hire with no regard to educational qualifications at all.

Nice. How much are we paying for this?

Photo Credit:, via Flickr