Virtual School Meanderings

July 30, 2021

Stop Requiring College Degrees For Open Jobs

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 8:01 pm
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An item from a business professor with little direct experience in education, but who believes free market economic principles are the answer to education’s (and pretty much all other society’s social) problems.

As companies enter a fierce war for talent in the wake of the pandemic, recession, and accelerated investments in technology and automation, there are a lot of strategies and tactics they can use to separate themselves from the pack.

Investing in their workforces in a more deliberate and strategic manner is one of those (and check out Walmart’s announcement on that front!), but so, too, is ceasing to require degrees for open jobs. Companies should instead be looking at whether prospective employees can do the job—which means do they have the requisite knowledge, skills and competencies to be successful.

There are unsurprisingly a lot of articles about just this topic starting to appear, from a piece by Byron Auguste, the CEO of Opportunity@Work, in the Washington Post to this article in Fortune and Guild Education’s Matthew Daniels’ piece in Training Magazine.

I offered my own take in Forbes on why it’s important for employers to make this shift—and why this would be a beneficial thing for ceasing the expectations on individuals to get degrees and credentials for their own sake rather than the learning itself. You can read the piece, which draws on some of our research from our book Choosing College, here in “Employers Have A Simple Tool In The War For Talent: Stop Requiring Degrees.”

To make this change and improve their hiring processes, employers must have a sound understanding of what are the competencies that their successful employees hold—something that their job postings suggest they don’t have a sound grasp around (outside of digital-first jobs arguably).

To be fair, understanding what competencies really matter to do a particular job is challenging. Improvement will ultimately require investments in cognitive task analysis or more vertical integration between education and training and the employer, but it’s likely a strategically important set of investments given that, perhaps counterintuitively, in an era of more and more technology, human capital is becoming more and more important in today’s knowledge economy.

These efforts are also extending into K-12 education, as today the Walton Family Foundation awarded Credential Engine $400,000 to support credential transparency at the high school level. Check out the release here.

Another university on the brink

Moody’s Investors Service recently downgraded Rider University’s junk-bond rating. InsideHigherEd has a story here about it.

I offered some thoughts in the article about how Rider could climb out of this hole, but also the challenges it will face. Chief among them is that students and parents have greater access to consumer information today than they did a decade ago, and Rider’s uncertain future could influence prospective students not to consider or attend Rider. Sites like Edmit and the Hechinger Report’s Financial Fitness Tracker, for example, or even NYU Professor Scott Galloway’s blog, are helping prospective students make far more informed decisions than they would have in the past.

ASU-GSV Summit

I’m excited to be partaking in the ASU-GSV Summit once again starting August 9th. Based on the current schedule, here’s where you can find me:

Monday afternoon I’ll be moderating a conversation about VoiceTech in K-12 education.

Tuesday morning I’m facilitating a keynote conversation with four university presidents on the future of higher education, followed by a fireside chat with Diane Tavenner—during which we will tape a live episode of our Class Disrupted podcast to kick off our third season! Come join in the fun!

Tuesday afternoon I’m moderating a panel on the need for personalization for adult learners, and then Wednesday morning I’ll facilitate one more conversation about new models for education philanthropy.

One more question for the new book I’m writing

A huge thanks to everyone who gave me ideas for the new book I’m writing about what K-12 schools ought to look like as they turn the corner from the pandemic in the years ahead. If anyone has any leads on public school districts that have adopted radical new teaching and staffing models to better support students, I’d love to hear from you. Public Impact has done an incredible job of cataloguing many of these as part of its Opportunity Culture project, but if you know of others, I’d love to learn more.

Thanks as always for reading, writing and listening.

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© 2021 Michael Horn
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

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