The Fine Line Between Attaining “Enough” Education and Being “Too Educated“
There are a myriad of internal and external factors which affect the compensation of the American workforce. Taxes, the stock market, global commodities, fluctuations in the American trading front (exports diminishing exponentially, while imports increase on the same sliding scale) and several others are factors to say the least. Ever since the United States Dollar lost its backing by the gold standard, the effects on the home front as relate to compensation for everyday workers has been vulnerable.
China and India are rapidly becoming the global leaders on the economic front; an area where the United States has perennially been a leader for well over two centuries. Throw in stateside issues such as payroll taxes, corporate taxes, the North American Free Trade Agreement – which opened the door for the notorious “outsourcing” of jobs, which gave many companies, large and small, the latitude to export their work to countries that would only require a small fraction in the area of cost to produce similar results as those stateside, and it is evident that compensation in America will remain on the turbulent roller coaster ride that it has been on for the past decade, especially. The United States receives so many of its imports from the aforementioned countries, as well as being in major debt to China that the US cannot reasonably shift this cycle anytime in the near future – if ever.
The cost of hiring new personnel is roughly twice what the worker’s stated salary is; further adding to the reluctance for companies to pay people any more than is absolutely required. This presents a quandary, as an entire generation has been pushed into gaining as much education as possible in order to make themselves marketable; only to be relegated to fighting over scraps with other (over)educated personnel who now find themselves up against others who are less qualified, less educated (but have much less leverage to make any demands or negotiations with the hiring company), and often lose out on the jobs that are available to the aforementioned less qualified/educated. The pendulum swing in compensation presents a new set of problems in the area of Human Resources and compensation within every company in the United States going forward.
This is a blurb from a reflection paper that I recently submitted for my Wages & Compensation Masters course, so it is relevant (just so happens that the assignment was such, although I had been burning on this for a while).
As someone who has two degrees, halfway through a third and preparing to obtain a Juris Doctorate, this scares me.
If not for my entrepreneurial sense, I would be harrowed at the job prospects for the reasons I stated above. And if you do not live in a major city, you would/should be also. It’s not going to get any better anytime soon. I feel also that if you do not possess a discernible skill set in various different arenas in order to generate multiple streams of income, you are going to be at a complete disadvantage in the next couple of years and going forward. These are facts. The numbers all bare it out.
I know people (albeit from a different generation, obviously) who have gotten by with barely an Associate’s Degree, or a worthless Bachelor’s Degree. We’ve all heard the comparisons of those two degrees to High School Diplomas, so I shan’t go there. Many of them are extremely successful, even.
I know people who are homeless (literally) right here in New York City with several Masters Degrees and/or a terminal Doctorate (JD/Ph.D., etc.) who were forced onto the streets because their professional degrees only offered career work and, by virtue of the amount of time put into earning each, left very little time for entrepreneurial pursuits — although the savvy businessman/woman would find a way regardless.
Personally, I am heading it off at the pass. With two Masters and a Doctorate degree, and at roughly 35 years of age (when the JD will be complete), I don’t expect there to be much of a market for someone of my ilk, without some serious string-pulling and/or being somewhat famous and in the spotlight with a platform. Otherwise, business has been (since 1998) and will continue to be the route for me to pursue.
I still do not know where the line of demarcation for being Educated Enough and Being Too Educated lies, but I ain’t waiting to find out the hard way — and end up in a mess like I was from 2007-2011. Personally, I’ve never once landed a job off merit alone. It’s always been due to who I knew and networking. I don’t know what that says about us as a country, but it certainly isn’t good for those who don’t have any real clout anyplace.
2012 has begun well, and I have a modicum of momentum that I want to continue to use to propel me going forward. I would assume that the proverbial line of demarcation varies depending upon the industry of work, but nonetheless, there has to be a general understanding of the balance between education, career/experience and networking that most everyone much achieve, lest they end up off kilter like a 6’10” athlete who wears size 7 shoes.
Let me hear what you think…