EverythingPeople This Week!

Published on Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Does Education Matter?

Author: Mary E. Corrado

Some recent tweets by Elon Musk, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc., made me stop to think about how we recruit for talent and what we look for.  In the past education was a key focus, but today it’s moving more towards experience and soft skills.

In Musk’s tweet’s he specifically stated that education doesn’t matter. Although the position was a highly technical AI job, he stated “A PhD is definitely not required.  We don’t care if you even graduated high school.”  When you click through to apply, all that is needed is your name, email, and answering the question “What exceptional work have you done in software, hardware, or AI?”  It also requires a resume upload.

I think employers just need to be realistic in how they evaluate talent.  If you have a candidate with 15 years of relative experience and no degree and another with a college degree but only two years of experience, it makes sense to look closely at the person with more experience.  Ruling someone out because of an education requirement could result in missing out on a great employee who could enter your organization and hit the ground running.

I recently read an NPR report that stated this past fall there were 250,000 fewer students enrolled in college than in 2018.  In fact, over the past eight years college enrollment has fallen 11%.  Several factors likely lead to this trend – a strong economy and increasing college costs.  High school graduates are looking at alternatives to an expensive college degree.  They are securing internships, doing online learning (i.e. coding bootcamps), etc.

Could the struggle to find talent become easier if employers eased up on degree requirements?  Some have coined the over-requirement of college degrees “degree inflation”.  A report by Harvard Business School from a few years ago showed that 70% of job postings for production supervisors require a bachelor’s degree, although only 16% of workers in that job currently possess a degree. That report indicates that 6 million jobs are at risk of degree inflation. Interesting, the current number of job openings in the U.S. is 6.8 million.

When employers solely focus their job search on college graduates, they could be missing out on large pools of qualified candidates. 

How heavily do you rely on education requirements when recruiting?  Email me at mcorrado@aseonline.org.

Categories: Blog


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