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Real pushback: Corporate America eliminating college degree requirements for new hires

Increasingly viewed at useless educational institutes
Increasingly viewed at useless educational institutes

According to a new survey of 800 American companies, about half say they have now dropped their requirement that new employees have a college degree, with some businesses replacing this requirement with actual apprenticeship programs.

For example, Accenture launched an apprenticeship program in 2016 through which it has since hired 1,200 people, CNBC reported. Some 80 percent of those people joined the company without a four-year-degree.

Earlier this year, the company expanded the program with the goal of filling 20 percent of its US entry-level roles. ‘A person’s educational credentials are not the only indicators of success, so we advanced our approach to hiring to focus on skills, experiences and potential,’ CEO of Accenture North America, Jimmy Etheredge, told the outlet.

According to the report, 45% of all businesses surveyed intend to eliminate college degree requirements next year, while 55% say they have already done so. Major companies like Walmart, IBM, Facebook, Intel, and Microsoft have been public about their shift away from college degree requirments, while others like Google and Apple have done so more quietly.

According to this survey [pdf] from the Burning Glass Institute, which analyzed trends across 51 million job postings, this trend appeared to begin before the Wuhan panic, was accelerated significantly by it, but has continued subsequent. This short quote from that report however says it all:

[S]ome employers have found that degree requirements are superfluous.

The report says that if these trends continue, another 1.4 million jobs in the next five years will become open to those with no college degree.

This recent study in Advances in Physiology Education underlines the reasons behind this trend with its very title: “We used to get money to teach students, now we teach students to get money: medical education has become a market with credentials not knowledge the commodity!”

The study notes that the recent focus by medical universities on making money has resulted in them teaching students poorly. It gets the students a credential (that diploma) that they can market but sends them out into the world as less qualified doctors. No wonder we have seen doctors pushing the useless and even unhealthy masks in the past three years.

What must be emphasized is that this trend away from hiring college graduates is not a direct political pushback against the leftist political indoctrination imposed by too many of these so-called “elite” universities. These companies are not focused on making any political statement at all. Instead, they are simply noting that the graduates these colleges are producing are simply not qualified. Either they haven’t been educated on some basics, or they are politicized control freaks who are less interested in work and more interested in being social justice warriors.

Businesses simply can’t afford to hire such people. They need people not only focused on doing the job, but willing to be trained to do it. It appears the companies are finding that too many college students arrive with closed-minds — unable to process new ideas because their universities taught them that they have the right to hide in “safe spaces”. Such people are untrainable, so businesses are looking elsewhere, preferable those who have worked in the real world and know how to think critically. Such people are much easier to train, even if they do not have as deep an education.

What this trend signifies more than anything however is that, as long as freedom and competition are allowed to function, we need not worry about the future of the country. The failure of elite schools such as the Ivy League to teach properly will simply become evident with time, driving both students and employers from them. Either these colleges change to become effective educational institutions again, or they will die, replaced by better venues.

And the sooner that happens, the better.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • sippin_bourbon

    Mike Rowe has talked about the push to get a very expensive piece of paper, and how detrimental that has been.

    Look for political push to reinstate the requirement. They want to push as many as possible into and through the academic world, to increase influence.

    As less push to go straight to college, you will see more reject the academic view of the world, in favor of a view based on reality.

  • College degrees can now be used as wallpaper. Sometime ago I worked for a company that hired a person for a superintendent position with a wall full of degrees and “No” experience in the field at all but the person checked the box that the company needed.

  • Dave

    This hiring trend is fantastic. The “studies” programs milk their victims for all they can, then spit them out to take jobs on the night shift at Arby’s.

    Meanwhile these apprentice trainees gain valuable skills in industries with real potential for career advancement and good wages.

  • Phill O

    University of Arizona, Tucson did not get accredited for it’s veterinary program. There were several deficiencies cited. The requirement was 80% of the first graduating class had to pass the NAVLE (North American Licensing Exam).

    Note that the University of Calgary got 98% passes when it sought it’s accreditation.

  • James Street

    Twenty years ago there were few people with Computer Science degrees. Coders were people with degrees in business, music, psychology who discovered they were gifted at coding. I was working for a cell phone company at the time and huge advances were happening so fast we couldn’t keep up: texting, cameras in phones, smart phones, tablets…. Now huge advances are considered upgrading from operating system 15.4a to 15.4b.

    I’ve wondered if it’s because now Computer Science programs weed out creative people with diverse backgrounds and instead train uncreative math nerds who can pass the advanced math and engineering prerequisites.

  • James Street: No, those creative people with diverse backgrounds all work at SpaceX. :)

    Seriously, about six years ago SpaceX wanted to hire some new software programmers. Rather than put out a call to the space industry, it sent a team to a software game convention. It didn’t want people with paper credentials, it wanted people who knew how to write good software that worked. (I posted about this on BtB, but can’t find the post now.)

    It is very clear that SpaceX and Musk don’t pick people like most corporations, with an HR department that simply checks boxes. Instead, they look for the right people, and don’t care what credential boxes they check.

  • Jeff Wright

    Mike Rowe really chafed at at a billboard campaign where a man in vest and workbelt looked dejected compared to a suit in the other frame. The caption read “work smarter, not harder.”

    Almost pushed me to vandalism.

    This started with the Rand folks however–who never appreciated labor.

  • D. Cohen

    What I see approaching is a situation where all those indoctrinated college-degree holders take government jobs, because they will still require college degrees (after all, don’t you want to hire the “smartest” for the civil service?) Next step, making college free with scholarships for everyone. The claim will be that this gives the nation a more intelligent workforce. In practice it will entice high school graduates into avoiding the job market — and real work — for four more years. Next step will be the government raising professors’ salaries and **requiring** everyone to go to high school and college …

    This does not sound like happy trails for all non-leftists, as the last paragraph of this article suggests.

  • Jeff, that’s not the first time Rowe has dealt with an illustration like that. His foundation raises funds with a poster that encapsulates his response to it … on the right, at the link (note the “scholar” in that poster …).

  • Bob

    A great plan all around. TOo many of these jobs don’t need a degree. It’s a useless regulation.

  • SDN

    “our approach to hiring to focus on skills, experiences and potential”

    When two out of three of your hiring criteria are purely subjective, the HR department’s DEI / CRT program is up and running.

  • Anon E. Moose

    Re: RZ, SDN;

    The so-called “professional” field of HR is a cesspit of human debris whom, in and rational economy, would be relegated to digging post holes — with their counterparts filling them in. It is where the unproductive who are too politically influential to be successfully buried in an organization are placed, and is ironically as fertile a breeding ground for some of the worst ideas and methods for successfully managing interaction among humans as ever witnessed.

  • Max

    Oh, the stories I could tell about training college boys. They do ok, once you teach them how to tie their shoes.

    Because of Jimmy Carter, jobs were hard to find when I turned 17 in 1980, so I tried flipping burgers at McDonald’s working for a 25-year-old who had a masters degree in microbiology as my manager. An eye-opening experience.

    I am a union member hourly employee for 30 years. (Union is like insurance against college educated salary bosses who are easily offended and retaliate against those who embarrassed them)
    There are nearly 600 people under me in seniority, all with varying levels of education raging from Harvard, to high school equivalence.
    They used to promote college education… and then wondered why things aren’t getting done, and why the management was becoming bloated with paperweights.
    Everything had to be managed by committee, no one person taking the blame for a bad decision. They found out that everyone who has ambition, does not necessarily have qualifications. They always rise to the level of their own incompetence.

    Now days they promote from within the ranks for those who have common sense and a attitude for the work, send them to school for the certifications if necessary. No one is hired off the street without an internship first to see if they are functional.
    Critical thinking skills are hard to find, I often tease the engineers that one day they will figure out how to make water flow downhill.

    Some of our best workers are coming from the islands, Tonga/ Samoa, with little education or a drivers license but are willing to learn and work and play hard. The same values as the farm boys that were raised with nothing, who know how to put in a good days work.
    The city kids do not last long. Even though they’re adults, I call them kids because they always have a phone in their hand as an excuse not to make eye contact or conversation. It’s for these that we’re always needing mental health seminars to help them express what they’re feeling… without saying anything at all so it does not offend another.
    I admit I don’t understand it because I’m a happy person. Perhaps it’s to prevent another employee from trying to commit suicide with a 4 million dollar piece of equipment.

    There is truth that most of the highly educated people will go into government jobs, state jobs and education. The current administration is having a difficult task forcing current government workers to come back to the office buildings. They’re preferring to work from home or doing no work at all… kind of like our congressmen who talk a lot but do none of their constitutional obligations.

    As for a free college education? you get what you pay for! Kids won’t show up for class because it’s free, and teachers won’t show up for class because there’s nobody there, and they get their money for free whether they teach or not. Anything you get for free is worthless.

    Similar to one opinion on how to solve the homeless problem is not to give homeless a home, but print up a stack of certifications and hand them a degree in plumbing, accounting, nursing, electrician etc. so they can go out and get a job and earn money to buy their own home. All they need is the paper!
    Don’t laugh, Joe Biden told the pipeline welders that they should just learn how to code… While silicon slope is laying off their computer workers and outsourcing their jobs to India. (AI writes its own code, as it is attempting to rewrite others)

  • pzatchok

    I was in the running for an ‘engineer’ job at my last place of work.
    I have a year of collage at best.
    I was beat out by a female with less collage than me, less experience in the industry and even less experience in the specific field. They just wanted a woman.

    I was next up for an ‘chemical engineer’ job at the same company. Even after being told by the boss to apply they picked another woman.

    Even our government contracting company didn’t need more than one real engineer for 6 positions. The government never asked about it until problems happened.

    I found out that my friend who is a mechanical engineer is having trouble finding new engineers who have any experience at all. Apprenticeship programs used to require the student to work with different machines in order to better understand how things are actually manufactured in a shop. He has new engineers who have never even seem a drill press or lathe, let alone a multi axis milling machine. Electrical engineers who have never assembles a circuit board.

  • Edward

    Jeff Wright wrote: “Mike Rowe really chafed at at a billboard campaign where a man in vest and workbelt looked dejected compared to a suit in the other frame. The caption read ‘work smarter, not harder.’

    Maybe I misunderstood the paradigm, but I always thought that working smarter was for the guy in the work belt. If all he did was work harder, he only got a little more done, in incremental increase in pay from overtime, and was more tired at the end of the day, but if he worked smarter then he was the one who invented the new widget that made his job go faster with less work.

    The guy in the suit has no idea of what the problems in the field are, so he has no idea of how to improve the workflow. He may be smarter (or not), but he is more likely to make a decision that hinders than helps, then he pats himself on the back for doing such a good job. The second picture in Jester Naybor‘s link has the guy on the factory floor working smarter, but I don’t think he is working harder, as the caption recommends. He gets more done from the smart moves he makes.

    I had some experience with this. For a while, I was writing procedures for use on the factory floor, but my advantage was that I was also the guy who ran those procedures. It was easy for me to make improvements, because I knew where even the most subtle of problems were and how to change my procedures. Later, I had another position in which I was writing the procedures but others were running them. I thought I knew how to write optimized procedures, but occasionally they came to me with improvements on the worst problems, not the subtle ones. It wasn’t until I was assigned to help run the procedures as well as write them that I once again improved even the most subtle of problems. It takes hands-on to know what is happening on the floor and how to work smarter.

    That fancy degree that I got from that prestigious university didn’t make me able to divine what was needed on the factory floor.* To make it work smarter I still had to get down there and see how it was working and to take advice from the others around me on the floor. One company I worked for recommended “management by walking around,” talking to the actual workerforce to make sure they had what they needed when they needed it.
    Max wrote: “They always rise to the level of their own incompetence.

    There is a whole principle based upon this concept.

    I thought it was so old that it predated the fad of going to college for a degree, but it seems to only be half a century old. So now I have to wonder whether rising to the level of incompetence is old but was not noticed or whether it came about because there were suddenly so many college graduates that people were promoted before they were ready.

    By the way, I was not yet prepared for almost every job that I started (especially promotions within a company and many times starting new projects), so I had many fast, on-the-job, training-by-doing periods, learning how to do the new sets of tasks. It was a lot like when my father threw me off the end of the dock to make me learn how to swim. (I know it is a cliché, but he really did it, and I dog-paddle really well, thank you for asking.) If this is standard operating procedure in industry, then I can see how someone eventually reaches a level at which he does not eventually get good at the new job. You don’t know when someone will reach that level until it happens. Peter principle explained.

    The college fad began shortly after World War II, when the U.S. started the “G.I. Bill,” which included some amount of funding for a college education. Some people thought that the 1950s were boom times because all those fresh, middle class, college graduates were a superior workforce {citation needed]. With a workforce so strong, employers needed another way to weed out prospective employees, so requiring college degrees became a popular weed out method {another citation needed].

    College became so popular that easy loan terms and college grants were created to help students afford the rising cost of a college education. So many students were attending college, more than we could possibly need as doctors, lawyers, engineers, and PhD scientists, that new — and useless — major areas of study were created (at one time the joke was that people were graduating with basket weaving degrees, then underwater basket weaving degrees, these days it is “women’s-studies” or other-studies).

    Oh, how ironic that U.S. universities have managed to turn even their once-useful degrees into useless pieces of paper, not worth the price of the frame for mounting to the office wall. And thus end-eth the fad.
    * So why did I graduate from that prestigious university? The in-state tuition was cheap. Oops — back then it was called “registration fees,” but it was rapidly increasing to a similar amount as a tuition.

  • Edward, working smart AND hard keeps one a step ahead of the competition, for they can be as smart as you or I but not as inclined to make the effort to actually deliver. And sometimes, we just can’t think our way around the hard parts, and have to be willing to take the initiative to go the distance.

    In fact, the reason supply-side economics is perceived by many as failed is because people did not take such initiative – either smart and/or hard – to capitalize on the opportunities it presented. Because they were led to believe that others … government, union, employer … was supposed to hand them prosperity on a silver platter, as they simply punched in, did the minimum, and punched out each day – while also expecting to work the same job the same way in the same place for a lifetime. OTOH those that took the initiative to capitalize on its opportunities did better their lot, present and future.

    All that being said, I can relate to your factory-floor experience … from my first job after graduating with my BSEE, I quickly learned that others that do not share my book learning deserve my respect, for they know things about how to build a deliverable product that would never be found in a textbook. They have saved my professional reputation on more than occasion.

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