What you can do will be more important than a degree for landing a great job

Degrees and formal tertiary qualifications will become less important for landing your dream job than your actual skills.

“I don’t think we are there yet, but we will get there,” the head of global business solutions at Degreed, Susie Lee, said during a recent Alexander Forbes Empower Focus event.

Degreed is an education technology company which develops and operates a platform for continuous learning. It aggregates resources to help people develop their skills, and recently rolled out a skills certification system.

It offers a free service for individuals, and a paid-for enterprise platform aimed at corporate learning.

While formal qualifications will remain important for a while yet, Lee said they are seeing people and organisations shifting their mindset.

“It’s telling that a higher education institution like Harvard got rid of the [Law School Admission Test],” said Lee, referring to reports that top US law schools would allow prospective students to submit their Graduate Record Examination results rather than sit for the LSAT.

According to the Wall Street Journal, one of the reasons for the change is to attract students from other backgrounds to the degree, especially those with experience in science, engineering, and mathematics.

Lee said that in future, skills certification will come into play rather than recruiters relying mainly on your qualifications and specific job experience.

“We’re not saying we don’t believe a formal learning or learning management systems. We just want to find a simple way for people to report and communicate their skills.”

Skills certification

Over the past three years, Degreed has built a skills certification system which aims to be behaviour-based, rather than knowledge-based.

“It doesn’t test you on what you know, it tests you on what you can do,” said Degreed’s Louis Soisson.

Soisson explained that the system works better if there’s a cohort, where candidates may be rated relative to one another.

According to Soisson, the system removes all bias – it only focuses on what you can do, and what you can demonstrate you can do.

“We’re not saying it’s perfect. It’s a process and we are just starting to roll out,” he said.

Soisson said the challenge with skills certification is that everyone has an opinion on how you define a skill.

“It’s the pioneer’s problem – we’re the first ones to do this at this level.”

Now read: How much you will earn with an IT degree in South Africa

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What you can do will be more important than a degree for landing a great job