Should Managers Permanently Stop Requiring Degrees for IT Positions?
Figures from the 2022 study The Emerging Degree Reset from The Burning Glass Institute quantify the trend, reporting that 46% of middle-skill and 31% of high-skill occupations experienced material degree resets between 2017 and 2019. Moreover, researchers calculated that 63% of those changes appear to be “‘structural resets’ representing a measured and potentially permanent shift in hiring practices” that could make an additional 1.4 million jobs open to workers without college degrees over the next five years.
Despite such statistics and testimony from Taylor and other IT leaders, the debate around whether a college education is needed in IT isn’t settled. Some say there’s no need for degrees; others say degrees are still preferred or required…. IBM is among the companies whose leaders have moved away from degree requirements; Big Blue is also one of the earliest, largest, and most prominent proponents of the move, introducing the term “new collar jobs” for the growing number of positions that require specific skills but not a bachelor’s degree….
Not all are convinced that dropping degree requirements is the way to go, however. Jane Zhu, CIO and senior vice president at Veritas Technologies, says she sees value in degrees, value that isn’t always replicated through other channels. “Though we don’t necessarily require degrees for all IT roles here at Veritas, I believe that they do help candidates demonstrate a level of formal education and commitment to the field and provide a foundation in fundamental concepts and theories of IT-related fields that may not be easily gained through self-study or on-the-job training,” she says. “Through college education, candidates have usually acquired basic technical knowledge, problem-solving skills, the ability to collaborate with others, and ownership and accountability. They also often gain an understanding of the business and social impacts of their actions.”
The article notes an evolving trend of “more openness to skills-based hiring for many technical roles but a desire for a bachelor’s degree for certain positions, including leadership.” (Kelli Jordan, vice president of IBMer Growth and Development tells CIO that more than half of the job openings posted by IBM no longer require degrees.)
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