Google’s Big Move to Disrupt and Upend Higher Education
5 min read
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Bob Dylan sang, “For the times they are a-changin’” That’s what I thought of when I read that Google announced they were going to start offering six-months courses to give people the skills needed to acquire jobs that are in-demand. The cost? An astonishing $ 300. All I can say is “About time.”
Like the CEO of Alibaba, Jack Ma, I started out my career as an English teacher. In 2008, I saw the writing on the wall with the shift in the market and reinvented myself. I read, listened to, watched, attended, and absorbed every book, CD and seminar I could get my hands on to prepare for the second half of my career.
What frustrated me about the educational process was how slow it was to adapt to our fast-changing world. Outside the school walls, the Internet, smartphone and social media have reshaped every aspect of our society. However, in the classroom, it was the same old stuff.
Then Covid-19 hit us like a ton of bricks and the gloves were off.
Cue the entrepreneur, or in this case, Google.
Apple competed upended the music industry, cellphone industry, headphone industry, and now look to take on the glasses industry in 2021. Not to be outdone, Google has decided to take on the higher-education monopoly.
Related: 3 Ways Higher Education Will Need to Adjust to a Post-Crisis World
This is big. It’s a 1.9 trillion dollar industry. If Google can shave away just 1% we’re talking 10 billion dollars. I have no doubt that if they were to succeed in doing that, other companies would sit up and take notice. In fact, I’m sure in the boardrooms across America and overseas at the biggest corporations, people are watching and waiting to see if they should develop their own courses.
It makes sense. Until now, a high school grad would head off to college or university, get a degree then apply for a job at various companies. Then they would get a few job interviews and finally, secure a job if they were lucky.
Just one problem, we are living in a world of change moving at breakneck speed. According to the acting administrator of NASA, Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., “By the time you are a junior in college, what you learned as a freshman is already obsolete.”
Google is aiming to kill two birds with one stone. First stone: they develop people they see as necessary for their industry in the coming years. Second stone: blow higher education wide open. While universities used to be able to differentiate themselves from upstart education companies like Udemy, with classes going online till 2021, they have waved the white flag and admitted that many classes can be taught online.
Entrepreneurs should be excited about this. Remember, we’re talking about a $ 1.9 trillion dollar industry that for over a century was controlled by colleges and universities which required spacious land, attractive facilities, dormitories, administration and professors. That’s all about to change.
Here are five lessons entrepreneurs should take away from this:
1. A small piece of a big pie can be very filling
Gary Halbert, the late great copywriter once said that if he could have one competitive advantage over anything else it would be “a hungry crowd.” Parents and students are hungry in 2020. Due to the lockdown students have had more time on their hands and started asking questions. The crowd is there.
Related: Does That College Diploma Really Matter for Success?
Niches are where the money’s at for most entrepreneurs. Education is a huge field consisting of hundreds of subjects, online training, tutoring, and more. Don’t try and be everything for everyone. Google will focus on computer qualifications. That still leaves a whole lot of pie leftover.
2. Fortune favors the bold
Courage is what it takes to succeed. Entrepreneurship is not for the weak and tepid. You’ve got to be willing to take calculated risks without a guaranteed outcome. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg all knew the risk when they dropped out of college and it worked out for them.
Universities aren’t going to give up without a fight, but for those entrepreneurs willing to strike while the iron is hot, rewards await.
3. Get in on the ground floor
While there is something to be said to being patient and watching how things develop, getting in on the ground floor allows a few select individuals and organizations to enjoy first mover’s advantage.
4. Technology has made things easy
Technology has advanced to the point where one entrepreneur, from the comfort of their own home, can run a million-dollar business. Upwork, Fiverr and the like have made it easy to find and hire virtual assistants. Outsource work to people halfway across the world has never been easier.
Related: Why the Traditional 4-Year Degree Isn’t Cutting It Anymore
5. Companies are starved for talent
For a long time, liberal art degrees or degrees in history, English lit or philosophy have allowed people to get jobs are corporations because they were the best candidates available. Google is planning on creating people that fit into their needs immediately and benefit from getting paid by them. It’s a win-win on both sides. Google gets better-qualified people and gets tuition, students spend less, invest less time and acquire a better paying job.
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