WCI, Inc
Dec. 20, 2023

Eliminating degree requirements

Forty-five percent of companies plan to eliminate bachelor’s degree requirements for some positions in 2024, according to a new report from Intelligent.com. In 2023, 55 percent of companies removed degree requirements, particularly for entry-level and mid-level roles, the survey shows. Employers said they dropped these requirements to create a more diverse workforce, increase the number of applicants for open positions and because there are other ways to gain skills.

“Due to the expense of attending college, earning a bachelor’s degree is generally more difficult for people from traditionally marginalized groups and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Diane Gayeski, higher education advisor for Intelligent.com and professor of strategic communication at Ithaca College. “If a student’s parents didn’t attend college or if they are from outside the U.S., it can be much more difficult to know how to navigate applying to colleges and finding scholarships and other resources. Eliminating a bachelor’s degree can open jobs up to individuals who weren’t able to attend college.”

Eliminating bachelor degree requirements in 2024. Ninety-five percent of respondents say their companies currently require bachelor’s degrees for at least some roles. In 2024, 45 percent of these companies plan to eliminate the bachelor’s degree requirements for some positions. This continues a trend from 2023, in which according to our survey, 55 percent of employers got rid of bachelor’s degree requirements.

Companies that eliminated some bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023 are far more likely to continue shedding these requirements than those who did not. Seventy-three percent of companies that eliminated degree requirements this year plan to do so for more roles in 2024.

Meanwhile, among companies who didn’t eliminate bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023, only 9 percent anticipate doing so next year.

Bachelor degrees already eliminated. In 2023, 55 percent of companies, for at least some roles, got rid of bachelor’s degree requirements. Among the 55 percent of employers who eliminated bachelor’s degree requirements, 70 percent did it for entry-level roles, 61 percent for mid-level roles, and 45 percent for senior-level roles.

The elimination of bachelor’s degree requirements varied across industries. Below is a look at the percentage of employers, in industries surveyed with at least 50 respondents, who say they eliminated a bachelor’s degree requirement for roles in the past year.

  • Information services: 72 percent;
  • Software: 62 percent;
  • Finance and insurance: 61 percent;
  • Construction: 55 percent;
  • Healthcare and social assistance: 42 percent; and
  • Education: 35 percent.

Currently, of the 95 percent of employers who have bachelor’s degree requirements, 24 percent require these degrees for three-quarters of their jobs, while 27 percent say they require a bachelor’s degree for about half of the positions in their company. Nineteen percent say only about one-fourth of their jobs require a bachelor’s degree.

Employers seek to create a more diverse workforce by eliminating degree requirements. Regardless of industries, companies are working towards similar goals with the elimination of bachelor’s degree requirements. Seventy percent of employers who removed bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023 say they did so to create a more diverse workforce. Additionally, 69 percent wanted to increase the number of applicants for open positions, while 68 percent say there are other ways to gain skills.

Experience over education. When it comes to evaluating job candidates, the majority (80 percent) of employers are more interested in experience than education. Thirty-nine percent of employers are ‘very likely’ and 41 percent are ‘likely’ to favor experience over education when assessing candidates’ applications.

A similar number, 81 percent, say it’s important for recent college grads to have work experience.

Students who are enrolled in college programs typically have a variety of options for gaining work experience while completing their degrees.

Additionally, 60 percent of employers think it’s important for job applicants to have AI skills.

Test assignments and personality testing. Employers are using assessments to determine a candidate’s suitability for a job. Sixty-eight percent of employers ask job candidates to complete a test assignment during the interview process, while 64 percent give applicants a personality test or work-style assessment.

The majority of test assignments, 81 percent take two hours or less to complete. Less than half of employers, 44 percent always compensate applicants for their time when they’re required to complete a test assignment. Thirty-two percent provide compensation sometimes, and 24 percent never do.

Valuing certificate programs. There are a variety of alternatives to bachelor’s degrees that individuals can explore to prepare them for the workforce, although how employers view those alternatives varies.

Certificate programs are considered the most valuable, with 75 percent of respondents saying their companies value this type of education. Sixty-eight percent say associate degrees have value, while 61 percent of companies believe both online degrees and apprenticeships have value.

However, only 29 percent of respondents say their companies view bootcamps, which cater to computer programming and other tech-related areas, as valuable.

Regardless of how they view education during the application process, many companies value education for their employees. Seventy percent of respondents say their company pays for further education as part of their benefits package. Meanwhile, 45 percent of employers say they offer student loan repayment benefits.

Source: Intelligent.com.

From WCI's HR Answers Now ©2023 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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