Abhijit BhaduriGuest Author

Is Degree Inflation to Blame for The Great Resignation

By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist

If the job does not require a post-graduate degree, should you hire a candidate who has a post-graduate degree? If a PhD has willingly applied to do a job that needs only a grade five education, should you reject that candidate?

That is just what has happened repeatedly in many cases. When the UP Police department advertised for 62 positions of Messengers, almost 3,700 PHDs holders, 50,000 graduates, 28,000 PGs applied for a job that barely needs literacy. The job expects the candidate to have fifth grade school education and know how to ride a cycle. <read more>

“Suddenly, degrees aren’t worth anything…now kids with degrees are often heading home to carry on playing video games because you need an MA where the previous job required a BA, and now you need a PhD for the other.” – Sir Ken Robinson

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Increasing the cost of hire

There are countless employers who look for degrees that the current employees do not have. This is a sure sign of degree inflation. In 2015, 67% of production supervisor job postings asked for a college degree. Only 16% of employed production supervisors had this qualification. That raises the cost of hire and the time to hire increases. Degree Inflation is a killer when it comes to the bottom line.

Higher turnover, lower productivity and retention

Sometimes the employers raise the requirement just because they believe it gets them people with better soft skills. Employers may favour college graduates because the degree is seen as a proxy for soft skills such as reliability, follow-through, and the ability to provide and receive feedback. <read more>, <read this> <and this>

The jobs themselves are changing. When there are robot-advisors creating investment portfolios and suggestions, the ability to win the client’s trust becomes the most important element of the job. Is it fair to assume that people with higher education have more soft skills? Degree inflation is often the root cause of overqualified and disenchanted employees who quit jobs continuously hoping to find the right degree challenge. The recent wave has been called the Great Resignation. It is the price we will pay for degree inflation.

Too many degrees chasing too few jobs

When employers want degrees, it needs more institutions that award degrees. In a rapidly evolving world, educational institutions do not have enough time to keep reinventing the curriculum and find teachers to teach these new subjects. The result is the constant drop in employability of the students who are entering the workforce. 

Degree inflation + grade inflation

Degree inflation and grade inflation go together. The cost of education is galloping ahead and becoming out of reach. After paying massive donations and exorbitant fees, the students feel entitled to get good grades. The educational institutions keep raising costs and keep dishing out degrees that the employers don’t value. The loser is the student who takes loans to get the degree only to be told by the employer that it is no good.

The median grade is A in some of the best institutions. Teachers who demand academic rigor are unpopular. Employers are unable to differentiate the quality of students based on their grades. They keep asking for additional degrees from candidates.

Competency matters more than degrees

YouTube has been one of the biggest disruptors in this system. When you want to learn how discover features that your new gadget offers, you don’t need to wait for the salesperson. When people want to look to learn a dance step or to learn how to code, millions of people make videos that teach you how to. YouTube has become the teacher that everyone turns to that creatively teaches everything. In such a world, it is time to take a hard look at degree inflation.

The change has begun

Tech firms like Apple, IBM, Amazon and a few others like EY have stripped off the requirement for degrees. Some others like Hilton hotels have also moved in this direction. Employers are moving in tentatively. If a job does not need a degree while entering, will it become a limitation for the employee to get a promotion at a later point?

If one waives off the criteria, can the employer turn it back on later for the same job? There are unresolved questions. Employers must pause and re-examine every job and ask if degree inflation is one of the triggers for The Great Resignation. The organisations are bleeding talent. Degree Inflation is a luxury they cannot afford. It is time to change how we view talent.

Republished with permission and originally published at Abhijit Bhaduri’s LinkedIn

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