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Many Companies Are Dropping Their Jobs’ College Requirements

To combat the continuing labor shortage, many companies are reconsidering hiring requirements and are “downcredentialing” their job openings. Many expect this reclassification to continue beyond the pandemic.

(TNS) — If you look at the stats, it's clear that America's labor shortage is far from over: There are still some 11 million jobs available and only six million unemployed workers to fill them, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's why many companies — even big ones like Google, IBM and Dell — are now dropping the requirement for a bachelor's degree in many middle-skill and even some higher-skill roles. So if you have a strong work ethic and a little bit of experience, but haven't yet earned a degree, this might be your time to shine.

"Jobs do not require four-year college degrees. Employers do," noted a recent study from Harvard Business Review, which details how the last decade in business has been characterized by a widespread phenomenon of "degree inflation."

"Employers who had not asked for a four-year college degree historically started adding college degrees as minimum education requirements — even for jobs that had not materially changed," the study continued.

And after facing a talent shortage for a little more than a year, many corporations — and even the U.S. government — are reconsidering their hiring requirements.

"In June 2020 and January 2021, the White House announced limits on the use of educational requirements in favor of adopting a skills-based approach when hiring IT professionals," the Harvard study said. "Many employers have joined the federal government in prioritizing skills over degrees. For example, IBM announced in 2021 that it had stripped bachelor's degree requirements from more than half of their U.S. job postings and will continue to rethink the utility of degree requirements in the future."

It's a phenomenon called "downcredentialing," or "degree reset," that was largely inspired by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But the Harvard study said the trend is not temporary: Only 27 percent of the changing occupations could be considered "cyclical resets," or short-term responses to the pandemic, the majority (63 percent) appear to be "structural resets" that began before the pandemic, representing a measured and potentially permanent shift in hiring practices.

"When employers drop degrees, they become more specific about skills in job postings, spelling out the soft skills that may have been assumed to come with a college education, such as writing, communication and being detail-oriented," the study noted. "This reset could have major implications for how employers find talent and open up opportunities for the two-thirds of Americans without a college education. Based on these trends, we project that an additional 1.4 million jobs could open to workers without college degrees over the next five years."

Tech companies are leading this charge: At Accenture, a Fortune Global 500 company that specializes in information technology services and consulting, only 26 percent of job postings now contain a degree requirement; at IBM, it's just 29 percent, CNBC reported.

"A person's educational credentials are not the only indicators of success, so we advanced our approach to hiring to focus on skills, experiences and potential," Jimmy Etheredge, CEO of Accenture North America, told the news outlet.

Google is signing on to the movement too, Yahoo Money reported, creating a $100 million fund to find and train non-degreed employees in fields like data analytics, IT support, project management and UX design. Dell Technologies has developed a program focused on hiring from community colleges.

"There's a talent shortage all technology companies are facing, and it will only increase as time goes on, if action isn't taken today to step out of the traditional recruiting model and open up opportunities for individuals without advanced degrees," Jennifer Newbill, Dell's director of university recruitment, told Yahoo Money.

Joseph Fuller, a professor at the Harvard Business School and a co-author of the study, who was also interviewed by Yahoo, said this trend is a great way for employers to increase their talent pool.

"By opening the aperture on your recruiting, you'll get more people that not only have the relevant skills and experience, but they're excited to get your job, not the job they're settling for, or not a job that they're ambivalent about," the expert said.

(c)2022 Staten Island Advance, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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