Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison are at NRO discussing some trends in employment. They start out with:
Earlier this month, the job-search site Glassdoor compiled a list of 15 major companies that no longer require applicants for certain posts to have a college degree. The list included an array of entry- and mid-level jobs —everything from barista to “Apple Genius” to “senior manager of finance”
It is worth reading the whole thing. We are generally in agreement with Fred and Grant but we find that they go a bit overboard with the red meat. That’s why we call this tofu edition.
Fred and Grant point out an important reason why lots of employers require a college degree when there isn’t a compelling reason to do so. They have a useful term for it, degree inflation:
There are multiple factors to blame for degree inflation, but a big one is the unintended consequences of federal anti-discrimination law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employers from discriminating against workers or job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It did, however, allow the use of “professionally developed” ability or employment tests, insofar as they were not “designed, intended or used” to discriminate.
Trying develop an entry level test independently has been a magnet for lawsuits. Requiring a degree has not although Fred and Grant don’t see why. It is OK to disagree with the courts but there is no reason to expect they will suddenly change their minds and agree with us or Fred and Grant. Here is where some of the red meat comes:
And colleges, of course, reap the outsize benefits of acting as the gatekeepers to employment. It’s an arrangement which allows campus bureaucrats to pull in six-figure salaries while tuition costs soar ever-higher and schools feast on billions in federal student loans and other taxpayer funds.
The actions by the employers in the first paragraph will have precious little impact on highly competitive colleges. We are not going to name names on who is worried about those employer changes but we are sure the Ivy League and the Big Ten are not. Fred and Grant recommend:
While there are policy changes that could help, businesses have a chance to do well by doing good. They can take the initiative to cultivate new partnerships, expand apprenticeships, charge HR departments with reexamining outdated assumptions, and find ways to move beyond routines that close the door to qualified workers who lack the right piece of paper.
We are with Fred and Grant that it is not a policy problem. We are with them that employers should cultivate and expand partnerships. Paid apprenticeships, internships, other on-the-job training should be expanded. The partnerships might be with colleges, high schools, vocational schools, or on their own. These programs at the various schools and businesses might be run by highly paid folks. They might be bureaucrats. Let the markets sort out the prices.