College degrees could become obsolete—and it could be the first step in giving your job to someone else
Colleges are dropping the SAT. Law schools are dropping the LSAT. And now, workplaces are dropping bachelor degrees—and experts think that should become the norm this year.
2023 will center on skills-based hiring rather than degree requirements—at least at successful companies, predicts research advisory and consulting firm Gartner in its list of top nine workplace predictions for the year. Companies must expand and diversify their talent pipelines to stay afloat, Gartner explains, thanks to their struggle to meet talent needs through more traditional recruiting strategies and employees’ increasingly nonlinear career paths.
“To fill critical roles in 2023, organizations will need to become more comfortable assessing candidates solely on their ability to perform in the role, rather than their credentials and prior experience,” Gartner wrote.
That might look like reaching out directly to candidates from nontraditional backgrounds who may not have applied otherwise, or “relaxing” degree or past-experience requirements.
Some companies are already well on their way there. Fortune 500 companies including Google, IBM, and Apple, have eschewed their longstanding degree requirements. It shows: In November 2022, just 41% of U.S.-based job postings required a bachelor’s degree, per an analysis from think tank Burning Glass Institute. That’s down from 46% in early 2019.
Way back in 2016, IBM coined the term “new collar jobs” to describe roles that require specific skills rather than a specific degree. Between 2011 and 2021, the company’s job listings that required a four-year degree dropped from 95% to under 50%. Ginni Rometty, IBM’s CEO at the time, told Fortune CEO Alan Murray that non-degree-holding hires performed just as well as those with Ph.D.s.
Gartner isn’t alone in its prediction. The next era of work will prioritize skills over pedigree, LinkedIn’s VP Aneesh Raman and Jobs for the Future’s VP Cat Ward wrote in a commentary piece for Fortune this week.
Over 70% of job listings require a college degree, which only 50% of Americans have. Last March, LinkedIn launched a suite of tools that emphasize candidates’ skills during the application process. The announcement billed a skills-first approach as the “key to navigating the next phase of the Great Reshuffle.”
In such uncertain times, when employees and bosses constantly go toe-to-toe, strong, adaptive leaders will be deftly pivoting, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky told the Harvard Business Review in November.
Years ago, hiring managers didn’t have a better way of assessing talent than via job history, pedigree, or who they knew, Roslansky said. “But when the labor market is moving much quicker, we really need to figure out something to focus on, and that alternative, flexible, accessible path is really going to be based on skills.”
Workers might need to pivot too—especially with regard to highly sought-after fully remote jobs. If roles could feasibly be done by anyone around the globe, the odds are good a company will eventually outsource them overseas, where they can be filled at a much lower cost, assistant professor of work and organization studies at MIT Sloan School of Management Anna Stansbury told Fortune. In other words, your remote job could go to someone else. All the more reason for workers to keep a close eye on opportunities to upskill.
But turning away from pedigree and toward skills is ultimately more equitable, which is good for both job seekers and business. After General Motors removed degree requirements from many listings, Telva McGruder, its chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, told Fortune’s Phil Wahba, degrees aren’t “necessarily the be-all, end-all indicator of someone’s potential.”
Degrees are out of reach for many Americans and shouldn’t be mandatory to gain economic security, Google’s global affairs president, Kent Walker, wrote in 2020. “We need new, accessible job-training solutions—from enhanced vocational programs to online education—to help America recover and rebuild.”
Given the economic outlook in 2023, for most companies, recovering and rebuilding may not be a bad idea.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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