Tuesday, September 29, 2015

EY Ireland reviews degree requirement via @SarahMcCabe1 and @IndoBusiness

The Sunday Independent reports that Ernst & Young (EY) is "reviewing whether its entry-level job candidates should be required to have a degree". This follows the decision by EY in the UK to "ditch the requirement for degrees at entry level from 2016 onwards". Uncited research is quoted by EY's UK talent manager that there is "no evidence to conclude that previous success in higher education correlated with future success in subsequent professional qualifications undertaken". I must search for this research as I'm sure it would make interesting reading for my colleagues and I in third-level education.

Many highly successful people such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and the late Steve Jobs did not complete degrees in College - and they were none the worse off for it. Millions of people (including me) who do hold degrees are not multi-millionaires nor household names. Go figure!

Of course, you cannot be absolute about whether having or not having a degree leads to success or not. There are so many variables leading to success: hard work, circumstance, luck, opportunity, failure, etc. I studied as a Marine Biologist and apart from a short stint as an Intern in NUI Galway in the summer of 1983, I have never succeeded to get a job as a Marine Biologist. What was my degree worth?

Taking a look at the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for earnings and unemployment rates in 2014 (see graphic below) it would appear that people who hold a degree are likely to earn a lot more and be less likely to be unemployed than the national average. I know this is not the same comparison that EY have stated ("success in higher education" compared to "future success in subsequent professional qualifications") - but nevertheless it holds out the hope for graduates that they will be more successful with at least a Bachelor's degree in their hand. Will a 23 year-old graduate be better than a 23-year old non-graduate with work experience? The only real way for the likes of EY to find out is to try it - and from 2016 they will. I do hope they will publish results.

Image Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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