How Much Will an Education Mean in Tomorrow’s Business World?
Last week, Penguin Random House, an international publishing house, ended degree requirements for job applicants. They follow other corporate powerhouses like Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. While Penguin and other companies frame this change as move toward inclusiveness, it nonetheless reflects a surprising trend.
A recent survey of Australian graduate students revealed that only 71.3% had found work within four months of obtaining their degrees and for less money than they were paid in the past. Data shows new Australian graduates’ median salary compared to the average salary has dropped by 10.2%.
What’s going on?
Penguin asserts it’s not so much an anti-educational move as an innovation that will provide the company better access to exceptional talent. “While graduates remain welcome to apply for jobs, not having been through higher education will no longer preclude anyone from joining. Simply, if you’re talented and you have potential, we want to hear from you.”
Meanwhile, smaller employers have expressed concern that graduates come out of school with no real skills or, worse, having learned the wrong things. While strong in academic areas, new graduates often lack critical soft skills, like being able to get along with others, being flexible, having digital skills, and being on top of time management.
Some say it’s a reaction to a common attitude of entitlement among graduates, such as Paul Fiumara, of DFK Hirn Newey in Sydney, who feels they often “have this over-inflated view of their worth.” He doesn’t blame the students, though. He points the finger at the “bloated institutions pumping them out.”
In any event, if an education’s no longer a golden ticket to a good job, it’s a major sea change. Will families and student be as willing as they have been in the past to go into debt for a degree that won’t inevitably lead to work? With education costs skyrocketing, on the other hand, the trend does offer a better chance for the less affluent to succeed on their talent.