Why did we need to standardise the way we acquire new skills?
Universities don’t sell education, they sell jobs. More specifically, they sell degrees that we use to get jobs.
The cost of setting up a university or TAFE is very high, so they need to appeal to a mass audience. They are incentivised to create general courses with generic titles and sets of skills.
Although there is a limited amount of customisation through electives, majors and minors, in a paper-based world, educational institutions can’t offer hyper-personalised courses, and they can’t stay up to date with the industries they’re attempting to prepare students for.
There is a lag between what skills the industry needs and the time it takes for universities to package them up into courses and make them available to the public.
In the past, the cost of acquiring new skills was high and only accessible to some (and sadly it still is).
What can we learn from the music industry that could help?
Aspiring artists are no longer locked out of the music industry by record labels. They can make and distribute music themselves.
Although there are still mega worldwide pop stars, there has never been a better time for indie music creators. The cost of creating and distributing music has dropped from tens of thousands or even millions of dollars, down to the price of a laptop and a Squarespace subscription.
Musicians don’t have to wait to ‘get discovered’ or strive for mass market appeal anymore; they can make music and post it online. Admittedly, a lot of it is awful, but some of it groundbreaking.
The fact that creating music and distributing it online is now so accessible means that musicians can be more niche. Musicians can find success with smaller audiences outside of the generic main stream and we the audience can enjoy a much larger, richer and diverse collection of music.
Knowledge acquisition has followed the same path. Visit YouTube, Google, Udemy, Lynda or any of a 1000 other options and learn the skill you need.
Universities are like record labels, in a time when it is getting easier to be an ‘indie student’.