Online Courses—The Equalizer For Tech Knowledge?

The job marketplace is ever-evolving as new technology and positions are changing the way that we both staff and run industries worldwide.

By Ryan Velez

Even though the economy is slowly creeping up following the crash a few years ago, many people, including people trying to get back on the saddle after being let go, recent college graduates trying to get their foot in the door, and those trying to hop between industries, are still struggling. Black Enterprise explains that part of this is due to a growing set of specific skills that many jobs are looking for.

Your first thought may be that this type of training is supposed to be what a college education is supposed to provide, and while there is a certain truth to that, the fact of the matter is that new developments are occurring a bit too fast to build entire curriculums and courses around. However, online courses have become a new way to fill the gap. Offerings like Coursera and LinkedIn Learning, a re-branded version of the Lynda.com courses, do just that, providing both young and experienced members of the workforce a comparatively inexpensive way to learn a new skill. This is not just limited to tech, but due to the fact that a new software, service or platform can become an industry standby in such a short period of time, there is a specific appeal here.

In that case, perhaps the question should not be whether or not colleges should do this. Instead, are they capable of catching up? Tech editor for Black Enterprise Samara Lynn recently compiled some information very relevant to this very question. Woo, a platform that connects employees that are passively looking for employment, recently analyzed some data regarding the education levels of those with tech skills. The data found that:

  • 91.5% of tech pros from schools tier-two or lower had nine or more skills, such as Java, Angular.js, AI, etc.
  • Only 8.5% of tech pros from top-tier schools had similar skill sets.

Similar applications would be made for candidates with fewer skills, with 89% from tier two or lower schools versus 11% from the top-tier schools. Nathaniel J., a Black Enterprise tech editor based in Silicon Valley, explains that “Professors aren’t in the field working and doing. It’s rare for professors to be developing apps. Students cannot rely on the university to get the skills they need. Instead, they need to be proactive.”

Could a college education become obsolete in the tech world? Hardly. Nathaniel J. explains that college will always be the place to develop “soft skills” like public speaking, but in terms of tech, students looking to be prepared for the workforce may need to start acting on their own to be ready.

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