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The future of corporates will be run by autodidacts, not business school graduates. | Slangbusters Blog
Jun 23, '20

The future of corporates will be run by autodidacts, not business school graduates.

Youtube, masterclass, online training modules, etc. are the future of skill-based training and knowledge sharing, especially after the shift to virtual tools due to the pandemic.

It is graduation season. Every third post on my LinkedIn is about someone getting into some business school almost every day. As much as I am proud of my friends for having cracked their CATs and GMATs, I also have a lot of friends who pursued careers in the creative industries, given I did my graduation in liberal studies. Most of these creatives I know have bettered their skills during the college days, while attending classes of random subjects, giving exams. Most of them took mentorship from the seniors who were in the university clubs, and there were the others who went online for skill sharpening, making art, trying and failing, and trying in their hostel rooms. This made me realize that the tuition that the parents of these kids were paying was for the community experience of the university, and nothing else, everything they were learning which would be significant to their careers was coming from a screen and WiFi connectivity.

In a conversation with a friend, we happened to talk about prodigies and natural talents and gifted people, especially in the creative industry. My friend was against the concept of prodigies, not utterly disapproving of the concept, but against my assumption that they have a better chase at successful careers. He told me that people can have a knack for something, they might be gifted with a natural tilt towards something. But skill-based training and development have to happen on this planet. It will not be served to you, even if you are born with a silver spoon, you will have to do the hard work of honing and polishing that skill to create better art, to create the best version of what you have in your head, to reach the potential, which might be something that you are born with.

That brought me to the concept of autodidacts.

Autodidacts are self-taught individuals who have gained expertise by themselves in usually their respective fields of interest.
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

Why this conversation around autodidacts?

The world is more competitive than ever. The corporate workplace is changing. The number of students applying for MBAs is depleting. The tuition for these university programs is at an all-time high. In fact, in the US alone, home to the world’s most prestigious universities, postgraduate management programs cost twice as much it did ten years ago. The value of these programs? Highly questionable. The curriculums are not updated at the pace of the highly dynamic markets. The case studies taught are too one dimensional and ancient. Almost irrelevant sometimes. The internet has changed the way many things function and learning has benefited the most.

Blockchain has entered the education industry.

In a 2017 interview, Bill Gates said that his favourite thing about education is self-education.

Photo by Shridhar Gupta on Unsplash

Workplace 2.0

The workplace has changed. Students are not afraid anymore to try new things and are not afraid to reject what they don’t think is up their ally. Gap years and jumps are more common on their resumes and recruiters are not looking down at what would have been considered irregularity or lack of loyalty a few years ago. Rather than looking at them like quitters, they are given the tags of explorers, people who are ready to learn new skills, and inquisitive minds.

The definition of professionalism has changed. Creativity, flexibility, adaptability, eagerness to learn new skills are admired by companies looking for a workforce.

There could be multiple reasons for this updation. But, the most obviously overlooked reason is where are people learning? Even after two years of education to gain expertise in one corporate aspect, companies have to train their employees. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the executives as much, but we cannot overlook the fact that giants like Accenture spends $1 billion training employees. We can only imagine what the Silicon valley must be spending.

A lot of workplaces have even removed university degrees from the eligibility criteria. They don’t want just a trained individual, they want someone right for the job, with experience and skills, not just a certification of knowing business theories. Industry giants are full of such examples that we keep reading about on LinkedIn- Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Dell, and the other list of drop-outs who are few of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.

Most people learn more on the job rather than on the campus. A lot of universities prefer that their postgraduate students have prior industry experience. Do we even need the brick and mortar campus to learn anymore?

Photo by Gery Wibowo on Unsplash

What is changing?

The brick and mortar campuses are beautiful oases of learning in a safe environment. When you are in an educational institution, the curriculums are designed to give you a taste of what work will be like. It is where you experiment without making decisions that will cost the company millions. It is a comfortable cushion, a safe transition into the real world.

A lot of institutions and entrepreneurs have tried to reinvent the traditional MBA. these courses are not only getting more and more expensive, but students are looking for alternative approaches to refining their management skills. Seth Godin’s altMBA that targets people already in the workforce to convince their institutions to sponsor updates of their employees by giving them this altMBA online course, Coursera and Edx are collaborating with universities to come up with online degrees and diplomas, MIT’s business school has its own MicroMasters. The industry is updating itself to the need.

There is a great realization that jack of all trades does have an edge over a master of one. The vertical approach to learning is slowly fading away, making space for a more horizontal approach. Ideas like a formal education will “put a floor on your career” are diminishing. We see and understand the difference between training, education, and knowledge.

Everyone can be an autodidact. (Minus medical students, police recruits, and other career paths like architects.) But management and some corporate sphere roles do not require institutions to teach you how to wear a blue collar. Neither is there a need for skills you are born with or prodigies. Skills can be developed. It is possible to learn and develop entrepreneurialism. And soon, those glass cabins in tall buildings will be full of self-motivated, learned autodidacts.

Self-learners or not, every entrepreneur must solidify their business idea by undergoing a branding process and get the success that the idea deserves. Slangbusters Branding Studio is made of such passionate people who are constantly updating their skills and are ready to build your brand.

— by Manas, Content Strategist, Slangbusters Studio

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