June 24, 2024
Growing Disdain for Diplomas Leads Employers to Emphasize Skills

Growing Disdain for Diplomas Leads Employers to Emphasize Skills

(Eli Pacheco, Headline USA) A Harvard University plagiarism scandal and the wave of anti-Semitism sweeping the nation’s most elite universities are but the latest black-eyes for higher education amid growing criticism over campuses’ metamorphosis into woke indoctrination centers. 

As students question the overall value of a college education, the restart of student-loan payments and surging interest rates that make it difficult to buy a home have even more would-be college applicants rethinking their career paths.

Following decades of growth, recently released data from the National Center for Education revealed that enrollment numbers for undergraduate programs have been in significant decline since 2010.

There were 16.2 million undergrad students in the U.S. in the spring of 2022, according to Education Data Initiative, a team that researches the U.S. education system. That’s down 14.7% from the peak in fall of 2020.

In response, some employers have begun placing more value on skills than diplomas. A analysis released in April by the career-networking website LinkedIn indicated that 19% of job postings don’t require a degree anymore, down from 15% in 2021. 

“Employers have long relied on proxies like education or years of experience in a given role to signal that a candidate was capable of performing a job,” said Rand Ghayad, LinkedIn’s head of economics and global labor markets, according to Forbes. “Now we are seeing more weight being put on having the right skills.”

The push has bipartisan support, as well, with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., the chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, both participating in a discussion on skills-based hiring moderated by Axios.

“If anything we want to say in high school, you’re going to have options: You could do a paid internship, learning a skill, get a credential, choose to join the workforce, choose to go to a two-year school to hone those skills or maybe get a two-year degree on that, or choose to go to a four-year school and get an advanced degree in that,” Cardona said.

“But there should be a pathway with ladders—with a ladder—of upward mobility for these students, and options,” he added. “At the end of the day, they need options.”

In the meantime, students opting for the traditional pathway through four-year undergraduate institutions are finding their postgraduate options more constrained by the financial burden than broadened by the knowledge they gained.

A report on the impact of student-loan debt by the National Association of Realtors found that many Americans stay in jobs they don’t like or that don’t interest them because of debt and are more likely to take a second job or one outside their field of expertise.

That includes 51% of those who don’t own a home because they claim student-loan debt makes it impossible for them to buy one now.

Of course, other factors in the Biden economy, such as the inflationary spike in building-supply costs and the surge in illegal immigrants compounding supply-and-demand issues for existing homes have also contributed, as have the Federal Reserve’s steadily increasing interest rates.

Still, when factoring in their other life expenses, the pursuit of academic degrees has seen a diminishing return on investment.

Borrowers who have paid off student loans say they use those funds for other purposes, such as:

  • Paying off other debt (34%)
  • Contributing to long-term savings (31%)
  • Investing (26%)
  • Buying a new home (13%)

According to the NAR report, only 23% of student loan recipients said they understood the costs before taking on the debt. That group is also more likely to have a better grasp of the cost when they took out loans for dependents or children (39%) than when they did so for themselves.

Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.


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