In the era of Millennials and Gen Z, higher education's value fades back. Our children and friends increasingly tell us they see no need to go to university. They claim to be able to learn and achieve everything on their own. EduBirdie decided to check if this is so. How much has the importance of education dropped, and is there a need for a diploma to get your coveted profession?
We have assembled a group of 60 people from various career fields and a couple of professional HR-s. With their help, we've put together over a hundred fake resumes of incredible quality. Our goal was to achieve maximum realism. We used the real experience of people who agreed to this, changing names and adapting their background and motivation to the needs of specific employers. The idea was to send two resumes for one vacancy with candidates having approximately the same experience and skills with an actual diploma being the only difference. We wanted to assess how much more likely a person with an education is to get a specific job and what is the general value of a diploma nowadays. As a result, 1438 resumes were sent out, which we divided into 20 main spheres.
To everyone's surprise, the success of our resumes was colossal. Such giants as Tesla, Disney, Twitch, Danon were among the companies that responded to the proposals of our candidates without diplomas.
Before we go directly to the results of this study, it is crucial to focus on a couple of aspects:
- EduBirdie does not in any way try to influence your choice to study or undermine the value of the university community. We strive for general reason and awareness.
- An accepted resume means a candidate who has reached the recruitment phase of an interview or test task.
- In order to avoid confusion and maintain the accuracy of the study, each resume of a candidate without a degree explicitly stated its absence.
- We tried to focus on professions where a degree is usually required, but there are jobs where education is mandatory at the legal level. No resumes were submitted to the jobs that require a mandatory degree or a license that needs one. e.g., "law" would refer mostly to paralaw rather than judges and practicing lawyers
- There may be a slight difference between the number of resumes submitted in a particular field with and without degrees. Resumes were submitted on different days, and sometimes the vacancy was already closed by the time the second candidate was submitted.
Now let's go directly to the study.
Our first priority was to identify areas in which the need for higher education, in particular for a degree, is minimized. Probably many of you thought about IT. And that would be right. The difference between the IT acceptance rate among candidates with and without a diploma was only 2 people or 5.1%. Moreover, it's worth noting that three weeks after we finished collecting statistics, emails of our fake IT specialists still receive letters with offers to consider vacancies from companies to which we have never applied. The sphere is so in demand that professionals are recruited regardless of education; the main thing is that they have the required skills.
Another surprise was the Law sphere. Unlike medicine, where even in professions that do not need compulsory education, a huge preference was given to candidates with a diploma (the difference in acceptance rate is more than 40%), paralaw turned out to be a very open area for workers without higher education. Over 37.5% of our candidates were accepted.
Other promising areas for workers without post-secondary education were Agriculture and Food (acceptance rate 47.2%), Hospitality and Tourism (51.9%), logistics and transportation (34.8%), and arts (66.7%).
In general, it is worth noting that there was a tangible difference in the level of admission only in some areas such as government, medicine, architecture, and engineering. As for the rest, the difference between acceptance rates was kept in the region of 10% more often, leaning towards candidates with a degree.
The next stage of the research was to study the acceptance rate of a resume with and without a diploma, depending on the level of the vacancy and race. The results showed that the chance of getting an entry-level position is 24% higher for candidates with higher education. For the associate level position, this figure decreases to 10.5% and then approximately levels off. Roughly the same tendency can be seen by studying accepted resumes by salary. It can be concluded that the higher the level of the position, the more inclined companies are to give preference to relevant experience. At the initial career levels, a university degree still plays an important role. And so, despite the fact that it is still possible to find a job without an appropriate diploma, recent school graduates and other people who do not yet have the proper experience may have problems finding their first jobs.
The same results showed that people of color, Arabs, and Latinos, in general, are less likely to get high-paying jobs without a degree than Asians and whites. With an increase in the level of position, these indicators only get stronger.
Gender studies have shown that there is no significant difference between intake rates for women and men. At the same time, the results showed that women are more likely to get the same position with a diploma than men, while men are more likely to get it without an education.
The last step was to calculate the average time of a positive response to a vacancy by the sphere. Response time refers to the time between submitting the resume and the first response from the employer showing a positive attitude towards the candidate (invitation to an interview or an offer of a test task). So for candidates without a diploma, the average response time turned out to be 1.3 days longer on average and amounted to 6.4 days.
It is difficult to draw an unambiguous conclusion from this study. The only thing that can be said for sure is that it is possible and quite realistic to find a good and beloved job in the right field without a degree. At the same time, post-secondary credentials are still a strong foundation for any future career.
This is just a basic summary of the research. You can familiarize yourself with more details by studying the full data set or in our visualization attached below