It might be the worst-kept secret in corporate America that positions in areas like coding, application development, and cloud computing offer rewarding work and stable employment, pay well. Yet, they are still hard to fill. It’s been that way for a long time. Plus, as we head further into the 21st century, it’s only becoming more true. Partly this is because of different dynamics at play in the general workforce.

However, it’s also largely due to a distinct lack of technical skills among otherwise excellent candidates. As institutions of higher learning continue their evaluation, they’re finding traditional approaches may not be the only way. Instead, they focus on the right level of skill development and technical training for prospective learners and employees. So, which is better: technical degrees or technical training in higher education?

Technical Degrees vs Technical Training – What’s the Difference?

As mentioned above, the ‘traditional’ technical degree is the result of completing a two-year or four-year program at an accredited institution like a university or technical college. Conversely, technical training is typically the process of teaching skills via alternate means, usually via some kind of training program that provides direct training in useful skills, but usually without an associated degree.

Further, technical training tends to focus only on those skills that matter most to both the employee and organization. It doesn’t focus on other aspects of traditional education like co-requisites in areas like liberal arts or general sciences. However, it zeroes in on just those skills that are the most relevant.

Technical Degrees – The Original Gold Standard

For a long time now, technical degrees have shown value for both degree holders and employers. On average, those with technical or engineering degrees earn as much as 80% more than those with just a high school diploma.

But, truth be told, traditional degrees do come with their own fair share of potential drawbacks, such as:

  • They’re expensive to earn – It’s no secret that college educations are expensive and getting more so over time. Recent data shows that from 1989 to the present, the cost of a four-year degree has increased eight-fold, well outpacing both inflation and wage increases over the same span.
  • They’re time-intensive – Traditional degrees typically require an investment of time that many learners can’t meet. Virtually all 4-year and 2-year programs require the completion of the core technical education. Also, it requires a wide range of associated classwork. This can double the length of time it takes to earn the necessary degree.
  • They age quickly – All technical education ages quickly, with the skills learned in almost any technical or engineering discipline becoming irrelevant within 5-10 years. In fact, in many industries, according to a 2016 study by the World Economic Forum, “the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.”

There’s no question that technical degrees are valuable. With that in mind, many companies and educational organizations have taken a different look at technical education programs. The reality is, especially in regard to technical positions, standard four-year or even 2-year degrees are not the only option. 

It’s All About the Skills

Candidates that create and support the technologies that allow organizations to achieve their business goals and objectives are important. Indeed, companies don’t need diplomas – they need skills. Now, they are willing to pay for them.

Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX, once tweeted in regard to potential candidates for technical roles within his organization “I don’t even care if you even graduated high school“, so long as those candidates have the requisite intelligence and skills to build the right tools and technologies. 

Other employers are following suit. In recent years, Apple, Google, and Netflix have all stated that traditional degrees don’t matter as much to them as applied technical skills, continuing a trend in corporate America that continues to expand. 

This new trend has caused many traditional universities and organizations to re-evaluate their approach to technical education. Now, they apply a more streamlined approach to the development of their technical education curriculum.

WOZ Enterprise  

WOZ Enterprise specializes in working with both corporations and institutes of higher education. Further, we design programs that provide prospective technology workers with the skills to enable them to gain employment. We help to design programs that focus on developing the right technical education.

If your organization is trying to develop a new or revised technical education program, we can help – and we’d love to talk to you about it. Contact us here to start that conversation.