In the decade before the pandemic hit, college enrollment fell by over 11% nationwide. There are a few reasons for that, but the most alarming one is that the cost of college is just too high for a lot of American families. Barring some unforeseen government intervention, college rates are expected to decline even further. While more and more jobs are available for people who only have a high school diploma, over a third of jobs still require at least a bachelor’s degree to apply. Members of Generation Z are rapidly entering the workforce, and are finding that without a degree, in most industries their prospects are still severely limited.
It’s unfortunate, but while colleges and universities still offer financial aid packages, their scholarships for anything outside men’s athletics are dwindling, and more and more students are loathe to take on great amounts of student loans, then spend their next 20 years drowning in a debt that never seems to get paid down. A bright student from disadvantaged circumstances is less likely to receive a college education than a C student from a wealthy family is. That has always been true, but these days the gap is widening.
While a college education is certainly helpful, it can’t overcome total ineptitude. If you’ve been in the workforce for a few years, if you have to choose, you’d probably learned to prefer a sharper coworker who learns quickly and suggests ways to innovate over one with a superior degree. In the past, this choice has been more theoretical, but if college enrollment numbers continue to decline, eventually you may be forced to make a difficult choice.
Or, if you’re in a position to do so, you might offer more training for employees who show promise. Kris Lindahl, CEO of Kris Lindahl Real Estate, is a pioneer when it comes to offering his employees free training. Getting your real estate license is expensive, and so many of the best and brightest, and also the most service-oriented people, might not have the funds to get one. Lindahl wanted to get the right people for the job first, and so began providing a real estate scholarship. All a promising candidate has to do is apply, and if selected, they may get their license completely free. Once they do, they can have a spot on Lindahl’s team, but there’s no obligation to continue with the company.
Of course, almost all of them do, and overwhelmingly express that because the company has already invested in them, they quickly developed a natural affection for and loyalty to the brokerage. Lindahl has also followed up on that offer with structured mentorship, and regularly brings in business leaders from around the country to boost his team’s skills. At a recent meeting, he also brought in a speaker from an innovative new lending program that could help specific clients navigate a tight market, and offered an opportunity for interested brokers to get trained and certified to offer it. Not surprisingly, a great many of his agents wanted in, recognizing that the more tools they can offer their clients, the more they’re likely to succeed as agents in the long run.
“We are in a relationship business,” Lindahl begins. “But our market is always going to have ups and downs. When a client also feels like they have an agent that can offer them ways to get their offer accepted that other agents can’t, or a special way they can help them navigate different closing dates with a lender, that relationship is for life.”
Real estate brokers are notorious for poaching each other’s talent, but offering continued education is one way that Lindahl’s agents are heavily incentivized to stay that has nothing to do with the commission they receive.
As education costs continue to climb and fewer talented people are able to afford it on their own, finding ways to offer training to your staff may be the single solution to recruiting issues, attrition, maintaining a positive culture and accommodating the needs of a younger workforce.