Degrees and Jobs – What About Personal Skill?

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Is requiring a degree leading to more out-of-work Americans?

While it may be necessary to have a degree for some jobs, are businesses requiring degrees for too many positions, and causing American people to be out of work?

We all understand the need for a degree in some job areas. For example, you certainly wouldn’t want to go to a doctor or lawyer who had no credentials to prove their expertise and reliability. However, more and more jobs are requiring degrees, but fewer and fewer people are able to afford the education needed to get them. This is causing more people to be out of work.

As a personal example, when I was in my 20’s I worked as a librarian. I loved my job, and I did it for 4 years. I was working at a library that still used card catalogs, and I helped teach people how to use computers as they became part of the library world. A few years back I was looking for work, and decided to apply at the nearby libraries. I figured that my experience and the glowing review from the head librarian I worked under would make me a shoe-in. Much to my dismay, I learned that a degree is now required to be a librarian and my experience and recommendations meant nothing. I friend of mine with 5+ years experience suffered the same fate trying to work for her local library.

As I continued job hunting, I found that no matter how much experience I had in any field, I couldn’t get a job without a degree. My years of web page designing, my digital graphics work, my writing, and my art skill all meant nothing. All I could get was a minimum wage job doing menial labor. I suddenly understood why so many people have been out of work and struggling. I’ve been lucky to find ways to work for myself, but some people don’t have that option.

With the economy such as it is, and so many people out of work, on welfare, and struggling to survive, you’d think businesses might think differently about job requirements. There are people out there who have more experience than any college graduate, but they are turned down for work because they don’t have that precious piece of paper.

My husband experienced this first hand. He was working as a computer systems administrator. He had no degree, but he knew what he was doing and did it well. Then the company changed its policies, and began hiring people with degrees. My husband was then forced to train these people to do the job right, since their fancy college educations didn’t actually teach them enough for the job. Needless to say, he quit. Imagine how demeaning it must have been to need to train people to do your job, and know all the while that they’d be getting paid twice as much because of a degree that didn’t even teach them to do the job right.

Businesses in the US should seriously reconsider their hiring practices, especially in these hard times. It wouldn’t be all that difficult to have standardized testing for various types of jobs. If someone wanted a position but didn’t have a degree, they could take the test and prove to the employer that they could do the job. Just think of how many people would be able to find employment if such a thing were instituted nation-wide.

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