"What a person knows is more important than how they learned it," writes Quartz at Work author Corinne Purtill in her Aug. 23, 2018, article "Apple, IBM, and Google Don't Care Anymore if You Went to College."
What? These big tech companies don't care if you earned a college degree? That can't be true.
Everyone's encouragement for me as a student and my entire career as a teacher and administrator has been based on the premise that a four-year degree is the best and in fact the only option that really counts for building a successful life.
And then came my exposure to career-technical education.
Purtill offers this question: "Which hypothetical resume offers a more convincing case for a candidate's work ethic or motivation: one from a recent college graduate who majored in computer science or that of a self-taught coder who acquired those same skills while also managing full-time employment?"
The beautiful aspect of career-technical education is that students don't have to be self-taught coders. We have the capacity to teach high school students real-world, job-based skills that will provide for good incomes. These skills can be used to go on to additional schooling or enter the workforce.
And it isn't just tech companies that are cutting their college requirements for employment.
Penguin Random House, Netflix, Costco Wholesale, Whole Foods Market, Hilton, Publix Super Markets, Starbucks Corp., Chipotle Mexican Grill, Nordstrom, Home Depot, Ernst & Young, Bank of America Corp. and Lowe's all have lifted the bachelor's-degree barricade to employment even if the job opening requires the skills traditionally earned through a bachelor's degree.
It doesn't mean they won't hire those with a degree – it's just that not holding a degree doesn't stop you from getting noticed.
So we have to ask ourselves, "If our high school students could learn the skills required to go into such industries as technology, marketing and logistics, and business, why wouldn't we take advantage of that?"
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has said that "vocational courses and on-the-job experience offer more relevant training for many tech-sector positions than a four-year college degree." If big business gets the power of career-technical training, when will we?
I have to confess, as a parent, I have been in the same boat you might be – thinking that career-technical education is good for someone else's child.
"Of course, there are several paths to make a successful life. Yes, kids should have access to career-technical training." I have said that.
And then, my own daughter, whom I have been grooming for college since she was 3, valedictorian of her class of 500 students, earner of 30 college credits while in high school, decides to go to a technical school to learn music and video production and may or may not pursue a four-year degree upon completion.
She has been intentional about job shadowing, networking and talking to successful individuals in her field who are making a good living, and each of them has told her she doesn't need a degree. In fact, they report, if she earns a degree, the industry might have to "unteach" her some of what she learned.
Oh, my. I had to identify my own contradictions, do my homework and change my long-held internal belief that whispered to me, "A four-year degree trumps everything else."
Maybe as the superintendent of a career center, I shouldn't admit this to thousands of readers within our service territory, but I do so hoping that each of you reading this article might also take a moment to identify the contradictions that exist in your thinking.
There are multiple paths to success.
Career-technical educators have known for 50 years that we can provide an engaging and unique experience for students that empowers them to explore who they are and the world around them in a way that traditional education does not.
Big business believes that, too.
And to be honest, now, in my heart, this mom believes it.
Emmy Beeson is superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical Center, which includes students from the Dublin and Hilliard school districts. Contact her at email@example.com.