CNBC’s Courtney Connley reported recently that Google, Apple and 13 other companies that no longer require employees to have a college degree, spurring some consideration of the implication on jobs and education.
The amateur economist in me read the headline on the surface of it and thought, “great! More affirmation that $100,000 in debt to get a piece of paper that says you’re academically capable of consuming and regurgitating information isn’t the right bar to set for tech jobs!”[photo credit: James Forrester; Creative Commons attribution]
And then I pondered…
- Will this domino other companies to do the same?
- Will this encourage Universities to be more flexible or affordable?
- Wait… college degrees aren’t really REQUIRED in any job, are they? They may have said it’s required but that’s never actually the case. Is this just a PR stunt to get more attention and candidates?
- For what jobs?
News, economics, politics, and education mix up a funny set of correlations in the U.S. No, not a funny set, a disconcerting set.
Connley noted in her article, “In 2017, IBM’s vice president of talent Joanna Daley told CNBC Make It that about 15 percent of her company’s U.S. hires don’t have a four-year degree. She said that instead of looking exclusively at candidates who went to college, IBM now looks at candidates who have hands-on experience via a coding boot camp or an industry-related vocational class.”
We all know a few facts:
- The cost of education, particularly in the U.S., is spiraling out of control
- The culture shifting our beliefs to “needing a college degree,” has pushed too many into a system from which we just don’t have jobs/demand. Trade schools died, and again are flourishing as we realize this
- Certain skills that are highly educated (such as coding) don’t require such formal education
I’ve touched on education a few times in my career; personally passionate about it though not working specifically therein (well, that is until MediaTech Ventures developed Collective). Years ago I was a bit of a study of Jeff Selingo and the value of education. More recently, passionate about the pace of innovation and implication of technology in education.
What bothers me is a notion pertaining to my primary work with startups and entrepreneurs; how we’re all born to be creative builders, entrepreneurial, and that institutionalized schooling seemingly beats that out of us. We grow up aspiring to be astronauts and artists but find our way into expensive 4 year plans that make us worker bees. Why do we perpetuate that??
College has been sold to us.
In 100 years, I hope college Marketing professors are teaching of the golden age of Selling University. It’s a brilliant case study really, not unlike how DeBeers made us all believe diamonds are invaluable…
- Create prestigious brands to which we aspire and from which people find themselves in lofty, celebrity, and valued positions
- Make that education more accessible to others
- Legislate how education is funded, public from private schools, and work with the government to help pay for the costs of those who struggle to afford it
- Offer courses and degrees that previously needed no extensive education, broadening the market further so that it serves everyone
- Ramp up the consumer appeal… “Party Schools,” Spring Break, free Macs (today, Free Alexa’s from Amazon), Back To School shopping season, Animal House movies… who doesn’t want to go to college???
- Develop the market, from/through elementary schools, such that it perceives that one must get the college diploma. Your future depends on it.
- Lastly, constrain supply even further. Tenure professors. Aggressively compete with online education (see ASU). Legislate away For Profit secondary education.
Someone should write a book in the brilliance of how University went from Cambridge, so that people could learn to be Academics, Doctors, and Lawyers, to a trillion-dollar industry so people can learn to be coffee baristas.
Perhaps this article is a start to that.
What are the implications on the job market of Apple, Google, and IBM are not requiring a college degree anymore?
Probably not much. Smart companies hire the right people, regardless of their papers. Hopefully though, this is the start of a return to some sanity in education.