This issue has been hotly debated lately as companies struggle to overcome the challenges posed by the skills gap, demographic shifts and changing attitudes towards work and careers.
Large companies in many fields, from Accenture to IBM to the US government, have recently relaxed or eliminated college degree requirements for new hires.
Is this the start of a trend in which traditional colleges and university degree programs are becoming irrelevant? Or is it caused by highly disruptive factors such as the global pandemic and the ongoing skills crisis? Is it a short-term reaction to tectonic movements?
Why do so few companies care about academic degrees?
A recent survey conducted by online learning specialists Coursera found that less than half of UK graduates have used the skills they learned in their degree since entering the world of work.
In a recent conversation with Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda, he said the challenges facing higher education vary greatly by region. For example, the U.S. and much of the West has an aging population, and traditional methods of funding education, such as government-backed student loans, are being squeezed by economic slowdowns and other factors.
On the other hand, regions such as Africa, India and Malaysia have much younger populations growing their education infrastructure capacity, and providers face the challenge of expanding capacity to meet rapidly growing demand. increase.
At both ends of the spectrum, this means that potential members of the workforce, especially in positions requiring education and training, are looking for alternative ways to acquire the skills they need.
Maggioncalda said: Give people more opportunities. “
In many cases, this shift in attitude is driven by companies recognizing that employees without a degree (or with a degree in a different field than expected) do not necessarily perform poorly at work. may result in
As I recently discovered when I spoke with Infosys President Ravi Kumar, his organization, like many others, is de-emphasizing degrees when hiring. Instead, candidates are assessed on the skills they possess and their ability to develop specific skills deemed necessary for the tasks that form part of the job.
And, of course, the ongoing skills crisis plays a big role in this. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things, and blockchain have the potential to revolutionize every industry. But to make them work, they require specialized skill sets that are hard to find, and candidates who possess them are targeted for hiring by the largest (and highest-paid) technology and financial services firms. Even if a company finds the right candidate with the right skills, it is unlikely that they will make the decision to turn them down because they do not have a college degree. Skills and experience are much more valuable to employers in such cases.
Are there any benefits to having a traditional degree?
This trend seems to point to the declining importance of traditional university degrees. However, it is clear that there are still many advantages to taking the traditional route of going to college for three, four, or more years for him to get his degree.
In particular, traditional courses, where students study in a residential environment away from home, are excellent for developing life skills. For many young people, living away from their parents is their first experience. Furthermore, it creates a valuable opportunity to develop skills in networking, meeting people, and building relationships both socially and later in starting a professional life.
For this reason alone, I think it is unlikely that traditional higher education will be completely replaced by new and arguably more convenient (and affordable) options such as online and distance learning. However, it is certainly possible that fewer people will recognize the need for, or justify the cost of, a full residential degree course.
Referring to recent Coursera findings, Maggioncalda said:
“Still, more than half said that what they learned in college doesn’t apply to their jobs.
“What colleges still do well is what they offer… experiences that most people still value.”
It is also true that face-to-face, classroom-based learning is the most effective way to provide robust education in a way that is meant to acquire and retain skills. Learning can be an efficient alternative, but I don’t think many educators would argue that it is equally effective as an alternative. However, this gap is likely to narrow as educators become more proficient in using new immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to enhance online learning.
What are the alternatives to a degree?
Traditional learning still has its place, but I believe this is reinforced by opportunities to learn in other ways. Must be kept up to date. Gone are the days when you could expect to finish your education at 18 or he was 21 and have the knowledge you need for a lifelong career.
Online and remote learning have made it possible to develop new skills and easily update old ones. This is one reason why the market for e-learning services is projected to grow 15% annually until 2025, reaching $50 billion. In addition to this, we can expect more employers to actively develop his OJT opportunities. Rather than simply replacing existing workers with new, more highly trained workers, they will understand that upskilling them will increase their efficiency.
I believe this change in corporate requirements is likely to lead to greater adoption of “lifelong learning” strategies among individuals and educational providers. Instead of withdrawing education at a young age, develop an ongoing strategy to keep your knowledge and skills up to date. This could lead to subscription services (already offered by providers such as Coursera and Udemy) that allow you to take or leave education as you see fit. This could benefit many sectors of society. Our school years, often affectionately called “the best days of our lives,” extend into adulthood and old age.
you can click here Watch my full discussion on the future of degrees and education with Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera.