Almost Half of Employers Plan to Ditch Bachelor’s Degree Requirements in 2024
Companies are shedding their bachelor’s degree requirement in efforts to increase diversity in the workforce.
45% of companies are planning to eliminate bachelor’s degree requirements in 2024 for some positions, according to a Nov. 29 report from Intelligent.com. In 2023, 55% of employers got rid of bachelor’s degree requirements. 70% say they eliminated bachelor’s degree requirements to create a more diverse workforce.
“Due to the expense of attending college, earning a bachelor’s degree is generally more difficult for people from traditionally marginalized groups and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds,” Diane Gayeski, higher education advisor for Intelligent.com and professor of strategic communication at Ithaca College, says. “If a student’s parents didn’t attend college or if they are from outside the U.S., it can be much more difficult to know how to navigate applying to colleges and finding scholarships and other resources. Eliminating a bachelor’s degree can open jobs up to individuals who weren’t able to attend college.”
FAVOR WORK EXPERIENCE OVER EDUCATION
The survey found that 80% of employers said they were “very likely” or “likely” to favor work experience over education when assessing job candidate applications. However, securing a job and climbing the corporate ladder without a college degree remains difficult in today’s job market. 95% of employers said their companies currently require bachelor’s degrees at least for some roles. About 24% require a degree for three-quarters of their jobs, and 27% require a degree for half of their positions.
“While a young person may be able to get an entry-level job without a bachelor’s degree, the lack of the degree along with the other ‘soft skills’ that one gains in college can make it difficult to climb the corporate ladder,” Gayeski says. “Employers today are looking for people who are culturally fluent in diverse settings, can display and document their leadership skills and can be flexible to take on new challenges.”
In addition to work experience, employers also value fit. 68% of employers ask job candidates to complete a test assignment during the interview process, and 64% give applicants a personality or work-style assessment.
“Assessments are important for many jobs, even if a student seems to have a relevant degree,” Gayeski says. “Employers use assessments to get a handle on whether candidates will be a good fit for their specific culture or the challenges of a certain job – such as the ability to handle conflict or to take on unfamiliar tasks and take risks. They’re also a way for applicants to demonstrate their interest in a job and how accurately and quickly one can perform tasks.”
RISE OF ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION & TRAINING
Today’s market has given rise to alternative education and skillset training options. About 75% of respondents in the survey said their company values certificate programs. 66% said associate degrees have value, and 61% said online degrees and apprenticeships have value.
“The 2010s gave way to the rise of a new form of alternative education that had some appeal from the traditional university system,” Jonathan Chang, a venture capitalist and founder of GenZScouts, says. “Companies like EdX and Coursera were founded with the premise of offering cheaper and more accessible learning to all. The companies created online courses that could be taken from anywhere with WiFi and on a student’s own time.”
The survey was commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish. The responses were gathered in November 2023, with a total of 800 U.S. respondents completing the full survey. To be eligible, participants had to confirm their involvement in hiring decisions and satisfy additional demographic criteria, encompassing age, income, and organizational role.
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