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September 26th, 2017 by


Last year, the massive multinational accounting firm, Ernst & Young, announced that they were removing academic qualifications from their entry criteria.

South African students who have been chasing down a degree at universities were probably confused. They were no doubt hoping their hard work would improve their job opportunities.

While the likelihood of those students finding employment still remains positive, it might not be enough anymore.

The company has noted that academic performance is still an important factor when deciding on candidates.

They , however, added that they’ve found no evidence to conclude that people who achieved success in higher education were guaranteed to achieve the same success in the workplace. Instead, research shows that there are positive links between certain strengths and future success.

You’ve either got it or you don’t. So, they’ve opted to pick applicants based on a system of online assessments and numerical tests.

Now, other top SA companies are following suit.

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Why the Change?

How students are being taught has now become more important than what they are being taught. Business leaders are frequently saying that jobs are available, but there’s a lack of skilled talent to do them.

There are two commonly cited explanations for this.

  1. Capital and infrastructure constraints have had a negative impact on the range and quality of skills students graduate with.
  2. The detachments between what universities teach us. The skills that are actually required in the market aren’t being acknowledged.

 

This mindset, it seems, has been reflected in the choices of large companies, such as E&Y.

According to Seth Trudeau and Keno Omu of the African Leadership University, South African universities need to rethink their approach to learning. If they are to produce people with the critical thinking, leadership, collaboration and problem solving skills needed for modern life, something has to change.

The majority of learning in African universities still occurs in large lecture halls. This system rewards our ability to remember and repeat information, like parrots. This has proven to be one of the least effective ways of learning.

Effective learning, the duo believes, takes just three things:

  1. Students must be able to reflect on what they are learning, which helps them assess what they know and what they don’t.
  2. Active Participation. True learning happens when students stop being passive recipients of information and become active experimenters.
  3. Learning happens when students apply new concepts or skills. Learn by doing.

 

The goal, of course, is for universities to produce employable leaders who are capable of meeting the challenges which are hindering Africa’s progress.

“To produce graduates with the appropriate skills and ways of thinking, they will have to change the way they see, design and assess learning,” said the duo.

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No Degree? No Worries

E&Y is just one of many companies that are offering well-paying jobs to applicants with non-traditional education.

By transforming their recruitment policy, they intend to create an even, fair playing field for all candidates. Every applicant, therefore, is given the opportunity to prove their aptitude.

The actual requirements they’re looking for may differ, depending on the specific job. Academic qualifications have by no means been rendered redundant, though. So, of course, having a degree will certainly help you, but these companies have committed to looking at other talents beyond academics when deciding on candidates.

They include huge international companies such as:

  • Previously mentioned Ernst & Young;
  • Penguin Random House Publishers;
  • Hilton Hotels;
  • Apple;
  • Google;
  • Starbucks;
  • IBM, and;
  • Nordstrom.

Whether you’re interested in administration, product management, tour coordination, food & beverage management, cooking, customer service, copywriting, logistics or graphic designing – it doesn’t really matter.

Somewhere out there, is a company that might hire you, regardless of whether you’ve studied for it or not.

This, however, has been seen by many people as a consequence for the dumbing down of education in this country. The lower the pass rate drops, the lower they drop the percentage required to pass.

What this system does, in effect, is create a saturated, horrendously unqualified workforce.

Another problem being that a company could be flooded with applications for every possible vacancy. And how would the company narrow those down? By filtering them, separating those with degrees from those who don’t?

In that scenario, having a degree will always benefit you.

It’s a foot in the door, and in South Africa’s current economic climate – that’s half the battle.

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