Should employers prioritize an applicant’s skills over their degree when hiring?
July 4, 2020 0

Skill-based hiring vs. educational degree

President Donald Trump has recently announced an executive order for federal government jobs (the USA’s largest employer) to prioritize a job applicant’s skills over their degree. This move ultimately means that within the hiring process, employers will care less about where one has went to college or if they have a degree at all, and care more about the skills that an employee brings with them. This decision does not mean that fields of work that require a college degree such as Medicine and Law will not need degrees any more. This simply means that jobs that do not require pre-requisite knowledge of a field, and ones that rely primarily on acquired skill, creativity and experience, will not require a college degree as a hiring condition.

This decision, while bold, is not very new. In fact, many large tech companies such as Google and Apple have relaxed their requirements for college degrees within the hiring process. Many young entrepreneurs and creatives have kick started their careers on skills with little to no reliance on college degrees for help. This is a trend that is increasing in popularity and changing the way careers are shaped and created, which pegs the question:

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Should more employers move towards skill-based hiring?


Skill-based hiring means that employees will introduce new and unorthodox ideas to their teams and environment

Increases creativity within the team

One of the prime examples of job fields that benefit from skill-based hiring are tech and media fields. Such jobs require a necessary element of creativity that cannot be acquired from college lectures and text-book theory. These fields rely heavily on constant improvement and development, and so, skill-based hiring, will focus more on the new and creative elements a worker brings to the table, and encourages applicants to push themselves to meet these demands and create original source material. Furthermore, skill-based hiring means that employees will introduce new and unorthodox ideas to their teams and environment unlike those learned and acquired through conventional learning. Examples of this can be seen in people such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, who are not distinguished for being ex-Harvard students, but rather, for their innovative participation in the fields of tech and media.

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Gives opportunity to self-developed workers

Studies show that there are over 50 million workers in the USA alone that have the capacity to work in high-paying jobs, but don’t get the opportunity to do so due to their lack of college degrees. Skill-based hiring allows such workers the opportunity to rise in the career ladder and participate in jobs previously reserved for college graduates, by assessing the worker’s ability to do a job effectively, rather than their knowledge about it. Furthermore, studies show that, when found in an employment crisis, companies prioritize firing workers with no college degrees, regardless of their experiences. Skill-based hiring removes the stigma that lacking a college degree means someone knows less or is incapable, which allows for more acceptance of skill-based workers and their ideas, and also secures their job positions.


College is not simply about getting a degree in a specific field alone.

Not everyone is born a creative

In a world where the trend of not having a college degree is increasing, where more and more people are not attending college altogether due to the financial strain it presents, many assume that they can strike gold on the career path simply through sheer born skill and creativity. While this seems like a bright and shiny idea, especially when promoted by success stories such as those of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, it is important to note that not everyone is born a creative, and that many acquire and learn skills through time and education. Stories such as that of Bill Gates and others, are not simply famous for being unconventional, but for being rare. It is not common for one to simply not learn a skill and be naturally good at it. This is where college degrees become a necessity, in order to guarantee that someone has an educated footing that can kick start their career. Even a multi-billionaire such as Bill Gates, who never graduated from college, advocates for “investing in yourself” and getting a college degree. This doesn’t mean that one cannot be a creative worker, it just means that one cannot assume that they will be as lucky as those before and so take the risk of not attending college.

College is not simply about education

In an interview with CNN, Bill Gates stated that he looks back on his decision of not graduating from college and believes that are many important experiences that he had missed as a result. This is because college is not simply about getting a degree in a specific field alone. College allows students to interact with each other and different classes outside one’s own field in order to broaden the student’s engagement with the world and with different ideas. Regardless on your major, as a college student, you are encouraged to look around and learn from other departments, classes and people. You are also encouraged to participate in a plethora of activities that not only expand your understanding of the world and of the people around you, it allows you to harness other skills your major doesn’t provide you with. Students participating in debate clubs, in social justice programs, leadership programs and even exchange programs allow them to look past their own classroom experience and interact with the world. Furthermore, college allows students to make bonds and contacts with other people that can last someone an entire lifetime, and even help them in their careers later in life.

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By: Amina Awirtani – Debate Coach at QatarDebate

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