Why Skills Matter More Than Your Degree
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, here’s some good news: It might not affect your career opportunities in the new economy.
A world without degree requirements
That’s right. According to NBC News, a growing number of businesses — including Google, Apple, and IBM — have removed the degree requirement from many of their job openings. Plus, a recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation stated that employers are getting ready for a world where skills — not degrees — are the most important requirements when filling a job.
It’s challenging to recruit skilled talent
So what’s driving this shift? After all, not so long ago, many job seekers were faced with so-called “degree inflation,” or the practice of requiring college degrees for jobs that don’t traditionally require college-level skills.
But in recent years, more and more companies have found it challenging to recruit skilled talent. There are various reasons for this:
- Unemployment is low — approximately 3.5 percent — so there are fewer people looking for work.
- Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and new skills aren’t necessarily tied into a college education.
- New types of roles are being created, and the necessary skillsets are still evolving.
What employers want
A 2013 online survey by the AACU showed that employers agreed that abilities that could be found across a range of majors were more critical to career success than students’ choice of major. It’s interesting to note that these results came out even before the recent drop in unemployment and the rapid technological development.
Almost all of the survey participants found the following abilities more important:
- Critical thinking
- Communication skills
- Problem-solving abilities
The majority also wanted candidates to demonstrate intercultural skills, integrity and ethical judgement, and the capacity for ongoing learning.
In addition, as Entrepreneur points out, incentives and promotion are based on your performance. That’s a direct result of how well you can apply your abilities in your work, not what level of education you’ve completed.
Putting it all together
Does this mean education isn’t important at all anymore?
That’s unlikely. There’s still a lot to be said for getting a college degree — not in the least because curricula are designed to help you develop skills like critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, as well as technical skills.
However, what it does mean is that there may be more opportunities out there for you if you can acquire the necessary abilities in a different way. Think of on-the-job learning, online bootcamps, certificates, industry certifications, and so on. But before choosing this path, it’s advisable to speak with a recruiter, as well as an experienced professional in your field of choice, to get their input on the matter.
And then? Regardless of whether you earn your degree or not, it will still always be your hard work that ultimately defines your career success.
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