Should Schools Teach Basic Freelancing Skills?

The number of freelancers is growing. In fact, the latest studies show that a significant portion of today’s work force (as many as 1 in 4) are freelancers.

Yet, despite the growing popularity of freelancing, many freelancers fail. The most common cause of freelancing failure is a lack of concrete knowledge about how to run a business.

With these facts in mind, today I’m going to explore the question of whether schools should teach basic freelancing skills. I’ll look at the pros and cons surrounding the issue and give you a chance to weigh in with your own opinion.

Advantages of Teaching Freelancing Skills in School

Imagine graduating from school and going straight into a freelancing career with the confidence of fully understanding what freelancing is about.

This freelancing confidence could become reality if students were taught basic freelancing skills in school.

The strongest case for teaching freelancing in school is that many students eventually find themselves freelancing anyway. With the number of freelance workers rising and with many workers having multiple careers, the odds are good that today’s graduate will attempt freelancing at some point in his or her professional life.

While the schools may do a great job of teaching professions (like writing, graphic design, and programming) that lend themselves to freelancing, most schools don’t prepare their graduates to run a freelance business.

Here are some points in favor of teaching freelancing skills in our school:

  1. In the past, basic life skills (such as typing and basic computer skills) have been required subjects in school. Freelancing skills are becoming increasingly necessary to today’s worker. One never knows when they might need to turn to freelancing to earn a living or to supplement their other earnings.
  2. Teaching basic freelancing skills might increase the number of freelancers who succeed. Many freelancers fail after a short time. This is usually due to a lack of basic business knowledge, but with early training they would have the knowledge they need.
  3. Understanding basic freelancing skills helps give students a better understanding of business overall, which could also serve to make them more marketable as employees. Many of the same skills that freelancers use to succeed can also be used in traditional employment.
  4. Having freelancing skills gives recent graduates more options. Not everyone is cut out for a nine-to-five job. Many employees wish they worked more flexible hours, but just don’t have the opportunity to do so. Freelancing can provide that opportunity.

While the advantages of teaching freelancing in school seem compelling, there are also some disadvantages to consider.

Disadvantages of Teaching Freelancing Skills

There are some definite drawbacks to teaching students freelancing in school. Not everyone desires to be a freelancer. Many employees are perfectly happy working for someone else. Some may not even have a skill that could be offered in the freelance marketplace.

Here are a few disadvantages of teaching freelancing skills in school:

  1. What material should be included in a course in freelancing and who would decide? Freelancers wear many hats. Should a course in freelancing encompass business skills, marketing, social media, or some combination? Can one course cover enough ground? No one knows for sure.
  2. Many study programs are already crowded. Adding a required course (or courses) in freelancing might cause other useful courses to be dropped. Requiring freelance training might even mean that it takes longer for a student to graduate.
  3. At what level of a student’s learning should freelancing be taught? Should it be at the high school level or the college level? Most freelancers do have a college education, but some are self-taught. Would it be more effective to teach freelancing skills early on in high school, or should freelancing be taught in college just before a student starts his or her professional career?
  4. Some students still may never become freelancers. For those students, a course in freelancing would be wasted time. Besides, it could be argued that those students who are really interested in pursuing freelancing will make an effort to learn what they need to know on their own anyway.

Your Turn

What do you think? In your opinion, should freelancing skills should be taught to students in school? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image by alamosbasement