Trend: Dropping the Bachelor’s Degree Job Requirement

Education

What started as a major event last year (2023) with 55% of companies eliminating the requirement of a bachelor’s degree for some of their job titles, this trend will continue into 2024 with 45% of companies reporting that they will be doing the same, survey by intelligent .com. The survey was conducted in November 2023 and included 800 employers.

The reasons they cite are many, but a major one is to increase the number of potential candidates in a tight labor market. They plan to use experience as their major criteria, with 80% of employers saying they value experience over education.

Another reason is the increasing cost of a 4-year college education, and many otherwise good potential employees choosing not to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Some of these potential employees are minorities who would add increased diversity to an employer’s workforce, which is another reason some are changing the job requirements.

Certainly, another reason for this change in requirements, but implicit in the change, is that a bachelor’s degree is not really necessary for many entry level positions. An otherwise good applicant could learn through on-the-job training or a specialized degree from a two-year community college. The community college is usually more focused on the specific training required by a specific job or career.

Obviously, the two-year community college or technical institution is going to be cheaper because of two years vs. four, but also because many community colleges get subsidies from the community, and, because it is locally based, the cost of “room and board” can be provided by living at home.

Another reason why the change in requirements is that many 4-year degrees in history, literature, sociology, etc., are also where there are a limited number of paying jobs for which these courses are relevant. This means that when these students start a job, they need to be trained in the most basics elements of their job descriptions. What they do bring to the table is evidence of basic ability to learn.

I think that these considerations, are some of the reasons that community colleges are growing significantly (12.4% in 2023 Spring Semester).

This same trend can be seen in the decline of university enrollments by 8% between 2019 and 2022.  This same article on the LinkedIn website was even more telling with the title: “The Future of Education & Why Most Universities will go Bankrupt”. They cite two reasons for this. First, the pandemic taught students that they could learn on-line and save $100,000 and a Harvard Business Review article in 2017 where they observed that business standards were changing with competency being more important than credentials.

The change in business standards was that even large companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Bank of America, were no longer requiring university degrees. So, if your goal in getting a college degree was to get a good job, why spend $100,000 when it would cost much less to get basic competency in a skill that would get you entry to an increasing number of large and smaller businesses.

As the Harvard Business Review article, cited above, competency was becoming more important than credentials.

Together with this change comes a general cultural shift in the perceived value and status in having a university degree.

One result of these trends is that the study of the humanities (art, literature   history, philosophy, etc. have dramatically declined. Between 2012 and 2022 the number of graduates in the humanities has declined by an amazing 29.%.

Although I applaud the changes in opening up better opportunities for those who cannot afford a university education or do not want to go into serious debt to attain it, I believe the decline in the humanities will have more and more negative consequences if the trend continues, and I see no reason that should not happen.

Many do not see negative consequences, but there are those who do. The argument for humanities is that people are not just workers in practical occupations that produce tangible monetary benefits. Workers are also parents who need perspective in human relationships between themselves and their children. Workers are also members of communities, churches, civic organizations, politicians, and voters.

Humanities are very important to these multiple roles. It is inhumanities that we understand human values and their importance. The humanities also help us to understand our history, understand cultural differences, cooperation, conflict resolution, relationships, and more of the “softer”skills that are necessary for family and community life.

Thankfully our secondary schools bring us a good deal of this type of education, but it should not stop there. There is no reason we cannot incorporate it into technical and business education. We can also pass on the value of lifelong learning to enrich our lives.

As always Stay Safe and pray for Ukraine, Russia, Israel, and Gaza.

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