Companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Delta Air Lines Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. have reduced educational requirements for certain positions and shifted hiring to focus more on skills and experience. Maryland this year cut college-degree requirements for many state jobs—leading to a surge in hiring—and incoming Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro campaigned on a similar initiative.
U.S. job postings requiring at least a bachelor’s degree were 41% in November, down from 46% at the start of 2019 ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an analysis by the Burning Glass Institute, a think tank that studies the future of work. Degree requirements dropped even more early in the pandemic. They have grown since then but remain below prepandemic levels. . . .
The majority of its U.S. roles at IBM no longer require a four-year degree after the company conducted a review of hiring practices, IBM spokeswoman Ashley Bright said.
Delta eased its educational requirements for pilots at the start of this year, saying a four-year college degree was preferred but no longer required of job applicants.
Walmart Inc., the country’s largest private employer, said it values skills and knowledge gained through work experience and that 75% of its U.S. salaried store management started their careers in hourly jobs.
“We don’t require degrees for most of our jobs in the field and increasingly in the home office as well,” Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart executive vice president, said at an online event this fall. The company’s goal is to shift the “focus from the way someone got their skills, which is the degree, to what skills do they have.”
A four-year college degree holder has more lifetime earnings than one without. The lifetime earnings of a worker with a high-school diploma is $1.6 million while that of a bachelor’s degree holder is $2.8 million, according to a 2021 report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.
But many people don’t finish college and are left with mountains of debt—more than 43 million people in the U.S. hold a total of $1.6 trillion in student-loan debt. While a college degree can provide specific workplace skills, workers can gain the skills needed for many jobs without a four-year degree.
Black and Hispanic people are less likely to have a college degree compared with white and Asian people, according to the Commerce Department. Men are less likely than women. . . .
Mr. Deitchman said since the policy change he is seeing more applicants and higher quality job applicants.
“I would rather have someone with experience,” he said. “It’s just something that should have been done years ago.”
Employers are learning the difference between credentialed and educated. All is proceeding as I have foreseen.