For years, employers have bemoaned the higher education system and claimed that the skills gap is both real and widening. On this blog, we’ve shared dozens of studies showing the declining critical thinking skills of today’s graduates (with only 28% of college graduates having “excellent” critical thinking skills). Now, at least one organization is making a major statement on the topic by removing the college degree classification from their minimum hiring requirements.
Ernst & Young, the 5th largest recruiter of college graduates in the U.K., has said that after investigating the data, they “found no evidence to conclude that previous success in higher education correlated with future success in subsequent professional qualifications undertaken.”
Does this mean a college degree is not important?
Not necessarily. There are important perceived intangibles tied to completing a college degree such as time management, commitment, and ability to prioritize. However, it does mean that employers no longer trust that having a college degree automatically implies adequate decision making, problem solving, or communication ability. So, while having a college degree will still be evaluated in the overall strength of a candidate profile, job seekers should be prepared to take more skills-based assessments in order to receive a job offer.
Ernst & Young isn’t the first employer to take a stand on college degrees. Earlier this year, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) made a similar change to their job requirements in an effort to identify a skills-based workforce over an academic workforce. This move has been applauded by the HR industry, as it levels the playing field for veterans, older workers, and economically disadvantaged youth.
The bottom line is that employers are seeking competent talent, and they’re willing to invest in skills-based assessments during the selection process in order to be certain that their new hires can compete in today’s volatile, uncertain, and ever-changing workplace.
It also signals to higher education that employers are tired of waiting for results. The message is clear, either start delivering college graduates with workforce ready skills, or your services will no longer be needed.
To learn more about why critical thinking matters in the workplace, download the Critical Thinking Means Business white paper here.
Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.