Companies Have Ditched Job Requirements to Find Workers

By: Anneken Tappe · February 20, 2024 · Reading Time: 3 minutes


America has a labor shortage problem. It arrived in full force during the pandemic, and even though we’re no longer at the peak, there were still 9 million unfilled job openings in December.

The unemployment rate is low, too, making it challenging for companies to find all the workers they need or want. To address the shortfall, some employers have done away with certain requirements, such as college degrees, in the hope to create a larger candidate pool.

Persistent Problems

More relaxed requirements sound like a win for workers. But it’s not quite that simple.

Non-graduates were only able to secure only 3.5% more jobs in the year following requirement removals, according to a study from Harvard Business School and the Burning Glass Institute. So even though the applicant pool is larger, it hasn’t solved companies’ hiring problems.

For one, many HR departments use automated services to pre-screen candidates. And these programs tend to favor college-educated applicants. So even if there is no degree requirement, those with college degrees could have an advantage.

Census Data from 2022 shows that 23% of the U.S. population over 25 holds a bachelor’s degree as their highest degree, while 14% also had an advanced degree, such as a master’s or PhD.

Sticky Labor Shortage

Several factors are contributing to the U.S. labor shortage, including baby boomers beginning to retire en masse, with some predicting the entire generation will retire within the decade.

While doing away with strict requirements is a theoretical way to address the resulting issues for companies, it’s tougher in practice, bringing up questions over apprenticeship programs that allow companies to build the workforce that has the skills required to get the job done.

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