Some CEOs Want to Drop Degree Requirements for Hiring

young man at his job interview with his cv under his arm.
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Some corporate leaders are suggesting to drop four-year degree requirements for millions of jobs. Instead, some executives are proposing to consider unconventional candidates in an effort to address inequalities in business and society, reports The Wall Street Journal.

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In lieu of a college degree, Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co., said Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit, that companies could hire workers without a degree and give them on the job training — Black Americans, in particular, who are often left unprepared by the U.S. education system. 

Frazier, along with other business leaders, including former International Business Machines Corp. chief executive Virginia Rometty, launched OneTen, an organization working to upskill, hire and promote one million Black Americans over the next 10 years.

“This is a moment in time for Americans to move past our divisions to come together and reach our full potential as a nation. Our country’s workforce of the future will be an increasingly diverse one,” said Frazier in a statement. “Through the creation of one million jobs for Black Americans over the next 10 years, OneTen has the potential to address persistent inter-generational gaps in opportunity and wealth,” he added.

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Frazier and Rometty are calling on companies to reexamine hiring requirements and remove obstacles for women, people of color and others. “The jobs are there, and there’s one structural barrier we can remove,” said Rometty, as reported by the Journal. While the executives support traditional college education, they say that it’s unnecessary for many entry-level positions.  

Tracy Burns, CEO of the Northeast Human Resources Association, told NPR that it’s harder for companies to justify a four-year degree as the cost of college rises. “It might not be all job descriptions, but [there’s] definitely a trend to really evaluate the true necessity of a four-year degree.” She added that requiring a degree has been companies’ way of saying, “We’re hiring the best and the brightest,” but it’s not really much of an indication of that, NPR reported.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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