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The Shelf Life of a College Degree

If you missed it, Aneesh Raman, a vice president at LinkedIn, shared his opinion on college degrees in the internet and AI age:

“Over the past few decades, because of the internet age, when we think about workforce development, so much effort has been, understandably, on technical skills, computer science degrees, coding boot camps, educated and credentialed—technical skills,” Raman said on a recent episode of Microsoft’s podcast WorkLab.

But now, “the shelf life of a degree is shrinking pretty dramatically.”

I’ve talked about this before because I am always somewhat amazed at tech jobs with degree requirements where the technology you’d be using wouldn’t have been taught in college. I’ve always argued that once you get 7-10 years past your time in college, any technical skills you gained in college are likely outdated.

I might have to adjust that timeline down when it comes to AI and emerging tech. No one has a college degree in prompt engineering, and what they did in college likely doesn’t matter if you’re hiring one. The same may be said for data analytics, accounting, statistics, etc. If we get AI good enough to do some of this work for us, the skills learned in college won’t be what is needed going forward. New skills will become more critical – skills we can’t identify yet.

What skill should we focus on? I’d agree with what Jason Alba wrote when linking to the article above:

The article talks about how things are changing so much with AI, and how even though there has been a huge focus on STEM (tech careers), the most important soft skill in today’s environment is “adaptability.”

You’d better be adaptable because your job will change whether you do or not.


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