- Despite employers deeming skills training credentials and real-world experience more important than degrees, a majority of employers surveyed by Cengage said they require degrees for entry-level jobs.
- Part of the resistance to change may be due to questions over the value of credentials, Cengage said in a July 20 press release. Nearly half of employers surveyed said they believe it is difficult to measure the worth of credentials due to a lack of familiarity as well as credibility concerns.
- But employers are worried about the talent gap, Cengage said. Two in three of those surveyed said that removing a degree requirement would help them find qualified talent; however, 26% of respondents said they use such a requirement to filter talent pools or because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”
While experts have long highlighted the importance of skills in solving the talent gap, employers have struggled to adjust to that reality.
"Employers seem to be stuck in a contradictory cycle, where they recognize that a degree is not an indicator of job readiness, but nonetheless require them as part of their candidate screening process,” Michael Hansen, CEO of Cengage Group, said in a statement. “This outdated mindset and degree stigma is not only widening the labor gap, it’s costing businesses time and money and turning away potential talent.”
The change has been top of mind for leaders. President Joe Biden called on employers during his State of the Union address to consider “skills not degrees.” Maryland also dropped degree requirements from thousands of state jobs in March.
But leaders from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs noted in a recent virtual panel that employers are still overlooking applicants with nontraditional backgrounds and qualifications. To approach hiring with a skills-first perspective may require employers to change how they hire in the first place, panelists said, including redesigning job descriptions and honing in on potential barriers.
Other strategies include anonymizing resumes, adding skills assessments to hiring and building more structure into interviews to better reflect skill competency, one expert previously wrote for HR Dive