More than half of jobs don’t need 4-year degree requirements, report says


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Dive Brief:

  • More than 60% of middle-skill jobs are “soft bachelor’s” jobs — jobs with descriptions that require a four-year degree despite a degree not being a good evaluation for the skills required, according to a Feb. 22 report by Bain & Company, OneTen and Grads of Life.
  • By focusing job descriptions on industry-specific skills needed for the position, jobs open up to a more diverse workforce, the report said, particularly bringing in Black talent. One of OneTen’s goals is to get 1 million Black workers without a four-year degree into “family-sustaining jobs” in 10 years.
  • Making a company’s hiring process “skills-first” requires efforts that span the whole talent acquisition process, from pre-hire to onboarding, Bain said. Job postings need to be updated; hiring panels need to be made diverse; and onboarding should focus heavily on key skills, among other strategies, the report noted.

Dive Insight:

More employers — public and private — are pushing for skills-first hiring, but doing so requires an investment some employers may still be wary of making, surveys have shown.

While close to three-quarters of employers surveyed by Morning Consult in 2022 said they don’t believe degrees are a reliable indicator of candidate skills, over half said they continued to hire from degree programs because it felt less risky. A Cengage report from July 2022 also showed that employers leaned into degrees in part because of a lack of familiarity with credentialing programs.

But employers are making the shift. Cleveland Clinic removed four-year degree requirements from more than 200 jobs in an effort to improve DEI and engage more applicants. Some states, including Pennsylvania and Alaska, have dropped degree requirements for certain state jobs to open them up to more workers.

“Skills-first hiring does not only widen job opportunities for qualified candidates to be considered, but has a strong business case for success,” Maurice Jones, OneTen’s outgoing CEO, said in a statement. “Skills-first hiring criteria are five times more predictive of future job performance than educational background and two and a half times more predictive than work experience.”


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