Companies Drop Degree Requirements As Worth Of College Wanes

Nearly half of all middle-skill jobs in America have nixed a college degree requirement on their applications.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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For decades, the path to prosperity was believed to come from a college degree. The majority of 

America’s top-paying careers often require bachelor’s degrees. But today, more and more businesses are dropping that requirement, as the worth of higher education continues to wane. 

Google, Tesla, and IBM are just a few major corporations ridding their prerequisite for new hires that once demand applicants prove they hold a college degree. Noticing this shift in labor market trends, Harvard Business Review recently released an extensive report studying this growing finding. With more than 51 million jobs that were posted between 2017 and 2020 analyzed, the study concluded that “degree inflation” is quickly reversing itself.

Degree inflation, or the increase in demand for college degrees for jobs, became a widespread phenomenon in the United States following the Great Recession. According to the report, many jobs began to add these prequalifications to jobs that never required them beforehand. This was heavily criticized by many, as oftentimes, the job skills hadn’t even changed.

Nearly half (46%) of middle-skill requirement jobs and 31% of high-skill positions were documented to have nixed the college degree qualifier. In place of this, many of the job listings shifted to a more skills-based focus. Oftentimes, this meant job postings detailed specific soft skills that are associated with college degrees without necessarily requiring the certification. 

It’s a major shift in American employment and could have vast implications on the nation’s economy if the transfer sticks. The Harvard report noted that two-thirds of adults in America don’t hold a college degree. With this requirement quickly vanishing from job applications, it could potentially mean millions of potential employees could possibly qualify for better-paying jobs.

Now that the change has been discovered, why are these mega corporations removing college degree requirements? The consensus is that high job demands during the pandemic and the lack of college students led to this. When the pandemic first hit America, many adults opted for corporate-America alternatives, finding side hustles and entrepreneurship opportunities. 

What’s more, college enrollment perpetually declines as more and more Americans feel that a college degree is no longer worth the hassle. As tuition continues to skyrocket, and student loan debt cripples college grads for years, many now are opting to go straight into the workforce. In the past two years, colleges have hemorrhaged more than 1.3 million students, many of which never plan to return

Vast reports focusing on college debt are leading to the mass exodus from higher education. Nearly 48 million Americans owe money for their college degree, which totals more than $1.75 trillion. The issue is so serious that after years of urgency, President Biden announced unprecedented student loan forgiveness, yet even by erasing up to $20,000 in debt from borrowers’ balances, many will still owe tens of thousands afterward. 

college degree

Now more than ever, American businesses are realizing that in order to attract and retain employees, no longer having college degree requirements may be necessary. It’s not affecting every industry, as it is unlikely we will see any doctors or lawyer posting nixing the big requirement. But for millions of middle-market trade skills jobs, opening these opportunities up to millions of potentials is proving to be a necessity.