Don't Reject Qualified Candidates: Is a Degree Necessary for Success?


Tim Cook recently stated that half of the employees of Apple – the largest, most profitable, and one of the most technically-advanced companies in the world – do not have a four-year college degree1. As the labor market tightens and candidates are more difficult to find, many employers are wondering if a degree is necessary for success in a given position.

Rapidly Changing Environment

The business environment is changing so quickly that it can be difficult for colleges and universities – notoriously stable, even rigid – to keep up. The skills that are learned in college may not apply to a job even a year later, even if the degree and job are in the same field.

Nowhere is this disconnect between learning and practice more pronounced than in information technology and computer science. For example, in cybersecurity, the technology and the threats to networks and systems are evolving far too quickly for traditional institutions to keep up. For these positions, a cybersecurity certification - such as those offered by NICCS - or on-the-job experience, may be more valuable than a degree.] 

Related reading: Cybersecurity Recruitment: What To Look For (Other Than A Degree)

Traditionally, college degrees were valued for two separate types of competencies: specific job skills, discussed above, and general knowledge. The process of acquiring that general knowledge includes the process of learning to learn.

However, in today’s world, there are many different avenues a person can take to gain knowledge. Independent training, on-the-job experience, and certification programs are all indicators of a person with a genuine interest in learning.

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Cost of a Degree

Student loan debt is expected to overtake mortgage debt by 20422. This has a lot of young people reconsidering whether or not a college degree is worth it – both in the high direct costs, and in the opportunity cost of missing out on a salary and direct experience for four years or more.

Just because a person decides to avoid the financial burden of a college degree doesn’t mean that they lack the skills needed to be successful in their chosen field. In fact, more than 40% of college graduates accept a position that does not require a degree immediately following graduation – and 10 years later, one in five is still employed in non-degree jobs3.

A recent study found that the tight labor market will be the top business challenge for 20204.  Because of this, it is important for employers to consider whether the job requirements that are in place are actually necessary, or indicative of future success in the position.

If a degree is not entirely necessary for job success, why discount another pool of talented individuals because they don’t satisfy an unnecessary restriction?

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If you are interested in learning more, or would like some expert advice on reevaluating positions at your organization to determine what job requirements will most likely contribute to success, contact Sparks Group today.

Sparks Group is a nationally-awarded, certified-diverse staffing agency with proven experience in matching candidates to open positions. At Sparks Group, we take the time to understand our clients’ requirements to ensure the best fit for every position, every time.

Contact Sparks Group to connect with qualified candidates in one of our areas of expertise, and improve your recruiting and staffing initiatives today.Find Talent


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Sparks Group

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