In a post I wrote about “Where You Should Be Recruiting Radio Talent” I mentioned a concept of “Just In Time Learning” that struck a chord with many readers. Commenter’s said they found the idea interesting and something they had never heard or thought of before. So I thought I’d expand on that thought with a little more detail and why it’s time has come.
Toyota’s Better Idea
Manufacturers used to stock everything they would need to build a product in warehouses. It was expensive and often wasteful. Then the idea of having parts shipped just-in-time to be assembled into a finished product was introduced.
Originally called “just-in-time production,” it builds on the approach created by the founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda, his son Kiichiro Toyoda, and the engineer Taiichi Ohno. The principles underlying the TPS are embodied in The Toyota Way.
College Degree Credential Creep
Once upon a time, college was an optional final stage of learning in the United States. Today even a Starbucks barista probably has a college degree. So what’s causing this college degree credential creep? In many cases the reason is that employers feel that by requiring candidates to have a bachelor’s degree they will see a higher quality group of candidates. It has nothing to do with what job skills are actually required. It’s used mainly as a screening tool. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the workforce in America gets screened out when a B.A. degree requirement is inserted into the advertisement. Burning Glass researched how the demand for a bachelor’s degree is reshaping the workforce and you can read more about all of this here.
The 20th Century College Education
When the 20th Century began, America had about a thousand colleges and those colleges had less than 200,000 students enrolled in them. By mid-century the number of colleges exploded and colleges that once had about a thousand students expanded to universities with enrollments of tens of thousands of students.
Unfortunately our 20th Century higher education system simply wasn’t designed to deliver what’s needed in a 21st Century world.
Your Teacher, Your Doctor and Your Barber
In our high tech world, things can quickly scale. Productivity grows quickly. But a teacher still teaches at the same pace. Your doctor can only see patients at the same pace. And your barber can only cut hair at the same pace as each of these professions did in the 20th Century.
When something can’t scale, the price to provide the service goes up.
In the case of higher education, this price problem has been compounded by states reducing funding to their colleges and universities, resulting in public colleges being funded more and more by student tuition and lots of fees. This has resulted in a trillion dollar student loan crisis in America.
Certifications vs. Degrees
For the radio industry, the answer may be professional certifications versus bachelor’s degrees. Students simply can’t afford to go to college for four to six years and come out with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt to take an entry level radio job that will pay them fifteen to eighteen thousand dollars a year. Even worse, most likely the job you’re most looking to fill – sales – a college grad won’t have received any course work in learning about. Broadcasting in college is focused on teaching all of the low demand jobs in radio and the classes in the high demand jobs are either non-existent or being eliminated.
The Radio Advertising Bureau offers professional certifications in selling starting with their Radio Marketing Professional (RMP) certification. Burning Glass says that jobs in fields with strong certification and licensure standards have avoided the problem of “upcredentially.” They write: “This suggests that developing certifications that better reflect industry needs, together with industry acceptance of these alternative credentials, could reduce pressure on job seekers to pursue a bachelor’s degree and ensure that middle-skill Americans continue to have opportunities for rewarding careers, while continuing to provide employers with access to the talent they need.”
Radio’s Recruitment Mission
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) need to spearhead the radio industry in creating bonafide certification programs for all job classifications that will be accepted by the radio industry as the equivalent (or better) than a bachelor’s degree. These programs need to be offered to high school aged students and recent high school graduates.
Certification programs can be designed to provide the kind of just-in-time learning needed for each radio position. When a person shows they’re ready to advance additional certification training can be taken to prepare them for the next higher position.
Done in this way, the training will be up-to-date, cutting edge instruction to insure the student is learning exactly the skills needed for the position they will be moving into.
Time for Radio to Think Different
The radio industry will need to attract new talent in order to stay viable and continue growing. Embracing a better form of training for the skills needed and making this a requirement versus a college bachelor’s degree is 21st Century thinking.
Many of these programs are already in place, but industry recognition and acceptance of them lags in comparison to requiring a college degree.
It’s time to think differently about how we find, train and grow the radio talent of tomorrow.
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