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Be so skillful that they can’t ignore you

By Gbenga Adebambo
21 January 2023   |   3:33 am
Something happened many years ago at Henry Ford’s River Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan that repositioned the value of skills over degrees. A massive new generating set at Henry Ford’s River Rouge assembly line broke...

Something happened many years ago at Henry Ford’s River Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan that repositioned the value of skills over degrees. A massive new generating set at Henry Ford’s River Rouge assembly line broke down and all the engineers were brought in to remedy the fault.

The engineers intervened but to no avail. This actually baffled the engineers, as they had already exhausted all forms of interventions. Henry Ford could not imagine an ordinary generating could defy his league of certified engineers! As the generating set was very central to the means of production, Henry Ford was forced to bring in a very skilled engineer by the name, Charles Proteus Steinmetz. In a mere few minutes, the skillful expert removed 16 windings from the field coil, and the generator jumped to life as if it were new.

Subsequently Ford received a bill for $10,000 signed by Steinmetz for General Electrics (G.E). Ford returned the bill acknowledging the good job done by Steinmetz but respectfully requesting an itemized statement to justify the huge billing for such a quick-fix. Steinmetz replied as follows:
– Spending five minutes removing 16 windings, $1.
– Knowing which 16 windings to remove, $9,999.
Total bill $10,000.

Henry Ford happily paid the bill. Ford electrical engineers had all the education and certifications but Steinmetz had the skills. Skill and not degrees is actually the difference maker.

The world is gradually moving from degrees to skills. When a company is looking for the problems you can solve, they look at the skills you have acquired and not the degrees that you have obtained. A college degree is no longer the main ticket to success and wealth. Skills matter the most. The future of work won’t be about college degrees, it will be about job skills. Graduates who want to secure their future must work more on their skill-set than their degrees. The rate at which people are acquiring skills is becoming alarming and graduates without skills will definitely become obsolete in the emerging world. The pertinent question every graduate must continually ask is this: What are the new skills to learn in other to be relevant and to be better equipped in my career in these recent times? It is either you have skills or you will be skewed out of opportunities.

Reno Omokri said: “If you have a degree, you can still be poor. If you don’t have a degree, you can still be rich. But if you have a degree and a skill, you can hardly be poor. Nothing kills poverty like skills. Companies are looking for skilled workers, not degree workers”. Every degree holder is not necessarily skilled. It is the skill that helps to achieve the target and not the degree. There has been a lot of talk about the need for graduates to acquire certain soft and digital skills if they are to survive in a future fuelled by technologies such as coding, automation and robotics. These skills will not only make graduate more employable but will also equip them better to interact efficiently in the workplace and with the larger society.

Opportunities in the 21st Century would not open up to people with just paper certificates, if they refuse to acquire important work-related skills. Today, there is a yawning gap between what is being taught in school and what the industries really need. By bridging the gap between what kids learn in schools and what they need to be successful in the workplace, we make them better prepared for the quick-changing reality of the global workforce. We need to redesign our educational system to put premium on skill development and talent discovery. We are living in a world ruled by digital skills like artificial intelligence, data analysis, coding etc., and the school system is greatly lagging behind.

Many graduates and degree holders are becoming progressively poor because the skills required in the modern world to get rich and to be successful are not taught in schools. Do not allow school to interfere with your education. Acquire skills that will make you solve problems and attract wealth in your generation. I am repeating this clearly: You are poor because the skills that are needed for you to be rich are beyond your certificate! By 2025, we will lose over 85 million jobs to automation (World Economic Forum). That means that future jobs will look vastly different by the time many people graduate from the university. Future jobs will involve knowledge creation and innovation, and people that are only equipped with skills found in the classroom will definitely be a misfit in an ever-changing world.

This does not mean that a degree is absolutely futile, as one cannot rule out the necessity of having a degree in hand. But considering the volatile and ever-evolving market, the demand for skill sets has definitely overpowered the basic education needs. In this dynamic paced world, skillsets are more important than focusing on completing the conventional college degree, which does not give you hands-on experience of the real world job scenario. In the new world, what will really matter is your exceptional skills to solve problems and your passion for continuous learning. A degree is good but it says nothing about what you are capable of doing; your skills are your unique selling points.

Make yourself stand out by telling the employer that apart from just having paper certificates, you have got some extra skills and potentials that can make you solve problems. Make research on skills that can complement your education, skills that your dream job requires. Learn skills that are in demand in the market.

There are many graduates who possess knowledge but lack practical skills to carry out specific tasks. Degrees do not automatically guarantee job placement, it is the acquisition of the right skills that gives an edge. Finally, I want to say that your degrees and certificates don’t attract wealth, your ability to solve problems do.

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