The 21st Century Do It Yourself Apprenticeship

Two Young Asian Women Working With Laptop Computer At Home Offic

Taylor Pearson is the Author of The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5. I’ve written about his take on employment and job security in the 21st century economy. 

He believes that today, having a job (no matter how good), is a risky proposition. Becoming an entrepreneur is the only way to have any control over your own future, prosperity, and success. Being entrepreneurial doesn’t necessarily mean opening your own storefront or staring a corporation; it may mean taking on gigs and projects that enhance your skills and earn income on the side.

This model means that you have to constantly be building your skills and learning new ones. In fact, as writer S.J. Perelman (who died in 1979) said, “Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.” Even If you decide to stay in a traditional job, you are never standing still; you are either moving forward under your own power or falling behind.

The challenge of learning in this economy is that classrooms can’t move fast enough. The most exciting fields, like technology, design, and marketing, are evolving daily. Educators can’t respond with traditional classes, certifications and degrees in time to keep up with the new trends.

Pearson writes about a graduate class a friend was asked to help design and teach: “[He] quit when he realized that teaching this type of material in a graduate program was hopeless. The curriculum was changed every five or ten years and the updates to the curriculum could take years to happen. The platforms that the professor was talking about like Twitter, Tik Tok, or Facebook change every month, if not every week. By the time the marketing techniques were taught in the classroom, they were hopelessly out of date. The students were left with much lighter pocket books but without the skills they needed to land a good job.”

So how do you develop the real-world skills needed to advance or change your career? One way is to create your own apprenticeship. Before you dismiss the idea, let’s talk about how an apprenticeship differs from education. Apprenticeships focus on both learning and doing. In fact, they are about learning by doing. Classroom learning is good, even essential, to many professions. But nothing beats getting your hands on the real work in the real world.

So what does creating your own apprenticeship look like?

Pearson says: “The premise is pretty straight forward: you find someone that is doing what you would like to be doing in five to ten years and cut them a deal. ‘I’ll come work for you and I’ll create results in your business. In exchange, I want to see the inside of how your business works: how you launch products, what the industry looks like, and who I need to know.’”

Simple, but perhaps not easy. In future posts, I’ll outline a plan for creating your own apprenticeship.

1 thought on “The 21st Century Do It Yourself Apprenticeship

  1. […] In a previous post, I wrote about the idea of creating your own apprenticeship to learn new skills or pivot to a new career or industry. Apprenticeship is an ancient concept, of course; you may associate it with registered apprenticeships that train people for the skilled trades or other professions. An apprenticeship is designed to have the apprentice work alongside a more skilled worker, observing and learning (often through actual classroom instruction as well.) When the master decide the apprentice can perform specific skills, the apprentice moves on to become a journeyman. The process can take years for some occupations. […]


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