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Do the education requirements match the position you’re hiring for?

Creating an inclusive and diverse and skilled workforce starts at the job application. By reevaluating the education requirements, barriers can be removed for those who don’t have the privilege of a 4-year degree but might have a certificate or an associate degree.

Are you overlooking great candidates with a 4-year degree requirement? Does the job description really support the requirement? These are key questions that more hiring managers are starting to ask. 

We’ve seen an unprecedented rise in digitalization during the Covid-19 pandemic and candidate skill sets will need to shift to keep up. The World Economic Forum estimates that 40% of current core skills are expected to change by 2025. 

To remain competitive, hiring managers need to figure out how to attract talent with the latest digital skills.

Sia Partners consultants dove into three higher education paths and what each can offer toward a candidate’s desirability. We hope this can help hiring managers and candidates shift thinking from a one-path solution to a multi-path solution. 

Certificate Programs

Some employers, including Google and Amazon, have released their own certificate programs to close the skill gap. 

The Google Certificate currently certifies individuals in four different tracks: IT Support, User Experience Design, Project Management, and Data Analytics. 

These certificates can reach a larger and more diverse group of people who don't have the privilege or opportunity to attend a university. 

There are some detractors like less hands-on learning and no collaboration with other students, but the benefits are beginning to outweigh them. 

With certificates, people can boost their skills, regardless of their starting point. With this perspective in mind, organizations can shift their recruiting strategies and consider applicants with more accessible and diverse educational backgrounds. A functional and future-focused economy is one that has the ability to adapt to our fast-changing world and doesn’t exclude applicants by class or background. 

Associate’s Degree

As we have been discussing, not all students have the privilege of attending a four-year university. An Associates's degree can provide a great education at 1/3 of the price of a traditional four-year university. 

There is concern that an associate’s degree isn’t enough to score a high-paying job. But we think that there are advantages to looking more deeply into a candidate with an associate’s degree.

  • Longevity: Cutting the cost of a degree can allow candidates to look for jobs that they want to stay in rather than accepting a job because of finances or worries about paying off student loans. 
  • Experience: Most Associate’s programs are built for working adults. Because of this, students have a chance to get jobs in a field related to their field of study and get some real-world experience. 

These can all help create a more well-rounded and experienced professional right out of college.

It’s also important to look at the type of position you’re staffing and consider whether or not that 4-year degree is really the way to go or if a certificate or Associate’s is best for that position. 

Four Year Degree

Most high-paying positions list a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite to apply. 

A Harris Poll found that two-thirds of 14- to 23-year-old students want a degree to provide financial security. For an international student, a four-year degree in the U.S. is one of the few options to have a chance at better opportunities. 

However, the cost of higher education has increased by 200% in the past 20 years.

The ROI of higher education has been decreasing as more Americans become educated, collect debt, and end up under-employed. A Strada Center for Education survey found that only half of the alumni felt it was worth the expense. Additionally, Black and Latino graduates were even less likely to find their loans worth the investment. 

Final Thoughts

University can provide a setting where students can experiment with eclectic courses and build many different skills, including critical thinking and interpersonal skills. Those thinking and interpersonal skills are increasingly among the ones missing from the workforce and are invaluable to many of today’s roles. However, a University education is not the only way to get these important skills. 

As the belief that these critical thinking skills are only built-in University continues to persist there is an increase in inequality. The wealthy are more likely to get a higher education. 

To wrap up, we understand that hiring managers can be challenged by a lack of a diverse and skilled talent pool. According to an SHRM study: “One of the biggest mistakes that hiring managers make is to focus too much on GPAs, majors or whether new graduates went to the right universities," 

To adjust to the changing skill-based workforce, organizations have the opportunity to shift recruiting strategies and hiring practices to be more inclusive, diverse, and adaptable.