The Most Precious Resource – Time
One of the most valuable resources in the modern world is time. Time for your work. Time for your family. Time for YOU. But to remain relevant and develop the job skills necessary to change or develop a career, education and skills acquisition are increasingly required to provide job security and advancement. This is especially true in what have come to become known as trade skills – traditional “blue collar work” that requires a hands-on approach for maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair. Conventional wisdom and practice has been to approach the trade skills training with an approach dating back to the time of the Renaissance. Artisans and craftsman took on young apprentices to learn their skills and crafts to become painters, and sculptors, and cobblers and shirtmakers. With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, this approach to training began to spread into practices related to the building and maintenance of machinery and infrastructure development. These teaching methods remained unchanged, even as the pace of technological innovation began to accelerate.
The advances in technology and manufacturing brought with them concurrent standardization and lower costs for goods, and workers no longer required skills but were instead reduced to mere cogs in a giant manufacturing wheel that required repetitive tasks to produce a finished product. At the same time higher education and college degrees became more prized possessions for the burgeoning middle class, and the trade skills were largely relegated to the immigrants flooding into the United States. White collar careers became the sought after goal with higher wages, and blue collar jobs came to mean an uneducated workforce, destined for a lower standard of living and an uncertain financial future.
But as technology has encroached on the once pristine service jobs of the white collar workforce, there has begun to be a clarion call for skilled workers in the traditional trades – a shrinking and diminished cadre of workers that command ever higher wages from a highly educated but “unskilled” population. Leaking pipes, burnt out compressors, poorly maintained and broken equipment. It is largely useless to call a highly educated and trained medical professional or a lawyer with years of litigation experience. When the need arises for a plumber or an air conditioning service technician, there is little choice but to pay the charges, as it is impossible to live with the damages or discomfort.
Governments and societies around the world have begun to beat the drum for an increase in the number of workers skilled in the traditional and modern trades, yet the salons with apprentices and trade schools of the past have become largely relegated to backwaters and dismissed by secondary educational institutions to pursue more lofty educational goals and professions. Even where they have survived, they cannot scale their growth to any significant extent, and are relatively unsuccessful at simply replacing the rapidly retiring preceding generation. The deficit continues to grow.
The solution may well lie at the fingertips of the next generation. Cellphones, tablets and laptops, along with the internet, provide a surprising and new approach to traditional trades training. Online courses taught by Masters of their trades provides an opportunity to massively scale the education of skilled trades workers worldwide. Location and timezone independent, it requires only the interest and dedication of the student to learn or upgrade their skills and knowledge quickly and affordably. And with the advent of Virtual Reality already on the horizon and becoming commonplace, the immersive experience of virtual “hands-on” training, on demand, will rapidly supplant traditional classroom and workshop training. At long last the promise of globalized education will be within reach of any citizen of the world with a digital device.