Human Capital and Education

In the most recent episode of Crash Course Economics, our co-host Mr. Clifford mentions the importance of a particular type of capital: Human Capital.

As Mr. Clifford explains it:

Screen shot 2015-08-31 at 2.38.13 PM

One special type of capital is the workers’ education, knowledge, and skills required to produce things.  Economists call this human capital.  So school’s not just about torturing you (except for PE), it’s about developing your human capital.  The quantity and quality of these resources is the first step to being more productive, but perhaps even more important is how you use them.

As a high-school teacher himself, no doubt Mr. Clifford sees the importance in making sure young adults have the skills to be productive in the working world.  I saw this part of the video as being a motivator for kids to stay in school and go to college, but maybe not.  I’ve often hear the arguments for more government investment into education as an investment in capital; sure, it costs money, but our future generations will be smarter and more productive, thus benefitting society tremendously down the road.

Besides people’s issues with taxation in general, does college really give you better skills to make you more productive?  Degrees are not skills, and there are only a few majors that I can think of that make students more skilled and productive for the labor market.

Mr Clifford is right.  Developing skills is incredibly important, and from what I’ve read, the job market’s most desired skills are related to Information Technology and Engineering.  With the internet reducing the need to get an education in a physical classroom, there are a lot of options for people to develop skills without spending four years in a university.  I would check out options like Code School and Coursera to start, but some googling research will probably tell you exactly what you need to be in the profession you are interested in the most.  Unfortunately, something you may actually need to qualify is a degree from a 4-year college.

Did your college/university give you skills for the working world?  If so, what were the classes?  Does college provide you with any other skills that I’m missing.  Do you have any other suggestions for skills-building resources?  Drop your answers in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *