A GED for the university? Not as far-fetched as it sounds | CLARENCE PAGE

When I saw the Wall Street Journal headline, “Some CEOs Suggest Ditching Education Requirements When Hiring,” I was impressed. Finally, I thought, the business world is starting to see things my way.

In recent decades, employers have increasingly fallen in love with what critics call “over-credentialing” or “degree inflation,” requiring a bachelor’s degree for jobs that traditionally did not require one.

Since less than a third of the adult population has graduated with a four-year degree, a preference for employees with university degrees exploits a limited pool, creating a mismatch between supply and demand in high-level positions. intermediary (supervisors, technicians, sales representatives, data analysts and the rest).

A growing number of companies seem to be realizing this trend and, without giving up their college degrees, letting the world know that not having a college degree won’t necessarily close the door to their opportunities.

And it was the spirit behind a new initiative behind the title that caught my attention.

Called OneTen, the initiative aims to train and promote one million black Americans over the next 10 years, for “family maintenance” jobs. ) that do not require a four-year degree. for starters, according to the co-founders, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier and Ginni Rometty, IBM executive chairman.

Once hired, they will have the opportunity to acquire additional training and promotions. Other companies involved include American Express, Delta Air Lines, Nike, Target, and Walmart.

But does that exclude promising candidates who are not African Americans? “It’s a startup,” Rometty said, when asked this inevitable question on “CBS This Morning”. “As we start with black Americans, we intend to expand to other Americans. With any startup, you have to start somewhere. We’re going to start with the group that’s at the top of our list – and, I think, when we do that for a group, we can (expand) to do it for everyone. “

I quickly remembered an idea I endorsed nearly ten years ago: a college version of the General Educational Development tests (GED) long used by high school dropouts to earn an equivalency diploma. secondary studies.

I attribute the idea to my semi-retired economics professor Richard Vedder from Ohio University who is also a senior fellow at the Independent Institute. When I called to get his opinion on the OneTen initiative, he was excited to read an effort based on the same idea that inspired his collegiate GED idea.

“I know the SAT and ACT (college entrance exams) are viewed with less favor at the moment, for a variety of reasons,” he said. “But the concept and benefits of testing are well established. The military, the government – the foreign service review is a very good example – everybody does it and they get favorable results.

So why isn’t everyone talking about the possibility of a college-level GED? You don’t have to be an economics professor to understand why higher education institutions would think negatively about the idea. “It’s competition,” said Vedder, author of a 2004 book “Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs Too Much,” which has not been universally welcomed by this institution.

But in an age of ever-changing education and training needs, we must seriously think about removing systemic barriers to promising young talent of all races.

– Contact the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence page at [email protected]


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