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© Sculpture: Jos Dirix
© Sculpture: Jos Dirix

Who needs a degree?

Pieter de Kiewit 07-05-2019 12:00 AM
Categories: Labour Market

This question popped up in our team after reading the following article by CNBC: “15 Companies that no longer require employees to have a college degree”. The last decades the percentage of people with a degree has steadily gone up. Our society could afford and stimulated this. Also because higher qualified staff is necessary in the modern economy. Unintended, this also resulted in a situation that positions didn’t require a degree in the past, now do. Especially during the crisis we saw this development. We noticed that “older” people with a degree started to complain about title erosion. 

At first I was surprised by the “no-degree message” in the article, but after some thinking connected it to the following changes:

  • The labour market is getting tight again, employers have a hard time finding new staff. Many of them hope that considering candidates without a degree will increase their chances of finding someone;
  • Statistics show that half of the jobs current high school students will pick up after graduation, do not exist yet. We see that the current schooling system is not yet prepared for this. So why go to a traditional school for a new type of job?
  • A degree was the most obvious way to find out if an applicant has the proper thinking and/or work level. With the modern development of assessment tools, there are alternative tools to find out;
  • The labour market is increasingly becoming a global one. Local schooling systems are not that easy to compare. A PhD in one country might be less of a challenge than a MSc in another. Employers are looking for more objective ways to measure the potential of a candidate;
  • Research has shown that traditional recruitment has a lot of hidden discrimination, also connected to the traditional schooling systems. With the current focus on diversity, companies are looking for ways to avoid this. 

As so often, this is not a simple equation with two variables and there is not one good way to go. And to be honest, so far none of our clients has been eager to recruit a candidate without a degree. Let’s see what the future will bring, what are your thoughts?

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