Is your Degree Holding you Hostage?

The Battle to Upskill, Adapt and Transition in a Changing World!

Posted by: Nicky Verd Comments: 0

More often people only talk about how lack of a Degree or certain certificates holds people back. Rarely do people talk about how these very certificates can sometimes become an obstacle. And so, I’ll like to point out how having a Degree or certificates in general can sometimes become a hindrance especially in a world that’s fast changing.

The question of the usefulness of a University Degree has emerged strongly in recent times. however, this article isn’t exactly focus on the usefulness of a degree but rather on how agile people with certain degrees can move and adapt in a changing world.

The need to transition to a new world was apparent long before COVID-19 arrived. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Nanotechnology, 3D Printing, Genetics, Biotechnology has been causing widespread disruption to labor markets across the globe. Therefore, transitioning from one industry to another, rather than advancing in a more linear way from role to role within a specific occupation or field is now becoming a thing of the past.

The world is changing so fast. Nowadays, a Degree can hold you hostage — constricting your freedom in both your thoughts and actions. Some Degrees are completely obsolete, Some don’t really have any relevance in the real world yet people keep holding unto them simply because they paid so much money for them or maybe because it came from a prestigious University.

The new normal is that many jobs don’t require a Degree these days, and there are many other alternatives you could take, from apprenticeships, short courses, freelancing or starting your own thing, whatever that may be.

The challenge is that many people are unwilling to step outside their academic qualifications or outside their industry to try something new.

Th mindset that once an Accountant always an accountant is still very prevalent even though Artificial Intelligence is taking over the Accounting profession. Same goes for once a banker, always a banker even though more and more bank branches are closing down and going digital. Same goes for once a cashier always a cashier even though self service machines are taking over the retail industry. This is where the hostage situation comes in because many people are unwilling to step outside their industry or outside their Degree to try other alternatives.

“It is better to explore a gainful uncertainty than to sit in a painful certainty” ~David Emenike

Personally, I don’t have a Degree or other fancy little nothings that make people too afraid to look stupid or try new things and this in itself is FREEDOM and freedom is power! I can say whatever is on my mind, I can try whatever silly ideas I want without having to worry if they correlate with my certificates or industry.

If you prefer visual content, then watch the video version of this article on YouTube. Otherwise, keep reading

Some people seem to think that simply attending college makes one more innovative and creative and that’s absolutely not true. Creativity and innovation don’t come from what your teachers taught you in school. New ideas and innovation come from your personal experiences, and your interaction with people and your environment.

The new normal driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution is demanding new competencies and having just certificates or being affiliated to certain prestigious Universities no longer makes one competent.

There was a time where just your affiliation with a certain institution opened up doors but that time has passed. The playing field are now leveled. Kids as young as 10 are coding the future while other kids are making millions of dollars per year on Youtube but some adult who can do the same thing won’t do it because they have such and such Degree. Even their certificate is no longer relevant for the world we’re living in yet they hold unto it as though its oxygen.

Like I mentioned before, I don’t even have a Degree. I’m not an academician by any stretch of the imagination. But, I was able to study on my own an industry like the tech industry, without necessarily having to go to school, and I’m able to speak on topics of emerging technologies nationally and internationally. Sometimes I even speak to people that are experts in the industry. This is possible because I decided to follow the non-traditional way of education.

“Education is no longer confined only to a classroom, education is now on Google” ~Nicky Verd

This type of education is for those who are free from the shackles of certificates and are hungry and searching for relevant knowledge to upskill themselves. Those held hostage by their Degrees don’t think outside the box and when they do think — they think only within the walls of a classroom or going back to school to get another Degree. I refer to this in my book as “recycling your problems.” It really doesn’t make sense to me why anyone will go back to get another Degree when the first one they had did absolutely nothing for them. Well, I guess its one of those mysteries of life. Let’s move on.

If I could learn what I have learned on my own, even wrote a book on a topic I had no background or previous knowledge on, simply by having access to Google, having access to YouTube, having access to book. Then I think anybody who is open minded can adapt.

“With so much information at our finger tips, anybody can adapt, upskill themselves and transition to an entirely new career or industry.” ~Nicky Verd

But because we have been baptised with this mindset that for you to be qualified or stand a chance at success or for society to accept you, you need to spend so many years in school and be certified and given certification. Hence it took me so long to make peace with the idea of writing my book because I disqualified myself. I felt like I needed to be really really really book-smart to write a book. But thank God I was able to have a conversation with myself like, I know I can do this, though I’m not qualified according to the world’s standards, And so, I just went and studied on my own. I became a student of life.

There’s a chapter in my book titled Schooling is not Education. When I wrote that particular chapter in the book I was thinking about the journey in which I myself have been on. Not having any background in IT or tech, having no Degree, yet being able to do what I do.

I believe that schooling is not education because I have educated myself and so have many other people out there. Self education is more powerful than having a Degree. Yes, of course they are certain professions that need formal training and formal education like medical doctors but that’s a conversation for another day.

Photo by S Weber on Unsplash

Today, I’m talking people being obsessed with going to school just because they feel they need to have these Degrees to fit in. Meanwhile, the world is changing, work as we know it is changing, the kind of disruption that is happening right now is so great that even global conglomerates like Apple, Google, IBM, etc are no longer looking at candidates based on their Degrees.

A Degree by itself is only a piece of paper. You need to bring something more valuable to the table rather than just a degree. It is more about what value are you can bringing to the table? It is about what problems can you solve in real time? Be aware of how tech is changing your industry and life in general!

“To survive and flourish in such a world, you will need a lot of mental flexibility and great reserves of emotional balance. You will have to repeatedly let go of some of what you know best, and feel at home with the unknown.” ~Yuval Noah Harari

People need to become curious about life, curious about the future of work and much more. I think that curiosity in itself is a skill. I’m driven by curiosity. Anything I don’t know I throw myself in there and learn as much as I can. As a keynote speaker, there are topics I’ve been given to speak at conferences and Sometimes I have no clue what they talking about but still I throw myself deep on the subject. I research, I study the industry, I study the topic and when the day comes I deliver like I’ve been working in that industry for years that’s the beauty of not being held hostage by any certificates.

When I started public speaking I realized OMG, there are people even in the health sector that wanted me to go and speak about technology in healthcare. I was like mmhh, I know nothing about the health sector but then I realized tech is such a broad topic that can be applied in any industry. I started asking myself deep questions like, how can AI or Blockchain or robotics be applied in the health sector, or the agriculture sector, or the finance sector. Adopting this mindset of asking hard questions helps me grow. I’m naturally a curious person and so every speaking topic presents an opportunity for learning and growth.

I constantly have to keep learning to stay relevant. But here’s the thing with some people with Degrees, they sit back with this mindset that. Well, I don’t need to worry a thing, my Degree is going to save me one day. But for me, the fact that I don’t have a Degree drives me. I can’t sit back, I don’t have nothing to fall back on. Even though its just a false illusion that a piece of paper can save anyone…but don’t even have that false illusion. And so, there are no barriers for me. I’m always ready to upskill myself!

I am not on lockdown by any Certificate. I am in the tech industry and if called to give a talk on how tech is changing Law or the Accounting industry, i can do that even though Accounting is not my background neither is law. I do understand the versatile nature of public speaking doesn’t apply to every industry but that’s beside the point.

The point is that a lot of people are held hostage by the very certificates that were meant to liberate them. Many people have Degrees that may never be used in the real world yet they hold unto them as if its oxygen. Some are so attached to their Accounting Degree and refuse to think digital marketing, or transition to may Data Analytics or some other relevant skills. Whatever anybody says, they are like, No, I am an Accountant, even though there is no future in Accounting, even though there are Accounting software’s that can do an Accounting job better than any human can. When I think about these types of scenarios, I see them as some sort of prison.

“Sadly, many are attached to the glory an Accounting or a Law Degree and other dying Degrees used to have but you’d become obsolete if you cannot think outside whatever Degree you studied in school and adapt in a changing world.” ~Nicky Verd

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

To me, I am open minded, I can learn about digital marketing or social media if that’s what is needed for me to stay relevant. I can learn about blockchain I can learn about robotics, I can learn about nanotechnology I can learn about all of these things because I don’t have any particular Degrees that restricts me.

Ironically whenever I use the knowledge I’ve learn on my own, whenever people hear me speak at a conference, whenever people get to read my book, they just assume I gained my knowledge in some prestigious University or that I am really educated (formally) but nothing could be further from the truth. My knowledge is street based. My knowledge comes from me having my ears on the grounds and being observant about what’s happening around me and where the world is going.

In conclusion, here are some thoughts for you:

·        Are you feeling at home with the unknown?

·        Are you upskilling and exploring?

·        Are you adapting?

·        Are you transitioning?

·        Is your Degree holding you hostage?

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