Should a Degree be a Prerequisite for Candidates?
We’ve all seen it…
Reading through a job advert, mentally ticking off each requirement, increasingly thinking this is the job for you. Then you get to a stumbling block;
“Must be degree educated or higher”
Surely in such a candidate driven market, this cannot still have a place.
Further education undoubtedly provides people with experiences you can’t get elsewhere, but would it be correct to say these experiences hold more value than an additional 3+ years actual hands on experience in the workplace? 3+ years more experience facing and interacting with colleagues and clients? 3+ years more experience dealing with the highs (and lows) of employment? I’m not so sure.
Of course, I understand the logic. When pitching a new project to a client, being able to present a team that boasts 2 BSc and an MSc, is impressive. I wonder, however, if they’d be less impressed with the explanation that the team has just delivered a very similar project to a competitor, on time and on budget, but are degree-less. In this case, would the team with the higher education really be the best people for the job?
This takes me back to those experiences I was talking about. We know that our experiences throughout life mould us into the people we are today. Statistics show that 71% of people that attend university are white males and from an advantaged background. Only hiring people with a degree near enough guarantees that you're building a business with like-minded people. People are on the same wavelength, have a similar upbringing and are likely to get on well. Great! However, that also means you're building a business with like-minded people - maybe not so great?
Where does the diversity come from, the ‘outside-the-box’ thinking, the varying life experiences that different backgrounds can bring. I’m sure everyone would agree that if we were all identical in every way, the world would not be a very interesting place, so why, when it comes to our business, are we narrowing our talent pool to people that have such distinct similarities.
Do all university caliber people actually go to university? Simply, no. I can speak from personal experience here. Being faced with that envelope on results day, feeling like your whole life is dictated on the paper within, is scary. I was fortunate. I had good results, results good enough to get into my first university of choice. Utter relief, but not excitement. Deep down I knew the university route wasn’t for me. I’d been working from a young age and the thought of another 3 years of my life being stuck in more classrooms? Not for me. I wanted to get into the workplace and start my career.
Now this is obviously my own personal situation, but I’d be confident in saying I am not the only one. The people you’re turning away from your business, without consideration, could be intelligent, university-caliber candidates, that just had a desire to work. Now, to me, that doesn’t sound too bad.
Universities are a fantastic option for a lot of people, but hopefully throughout this, I’ve highlighted a few reasons why it may not be worth closing your doors to those without a degree. Expanding your screening and hiring process to include those who didn’t go to university, may open a wealth of experience and expertise that wasn’t there before.