Ernst & Young and PriceWaterhouseCoopers don't care about their job candidates' university background or A-Levels any more.
In other news, their HR departments are now being run by unicorns.
Just a few years ago these two statements would have been equally believable. Entire institutions – private and state school systems, higher education – have their foundations in the bedrock expectation that top employers expect top A-Level and University grades.
In a similar move to Ernst & Young's, top law firm Clifford Chance have introduced a ‘CV-blind policy' for graduate recruitment. Recruiting staff are given nothing but the candidate's name before final interviews. This is intended to eliminate any bias surrounding school and university background and allow the candidate to shine on their own merits. Both firms have stated that they place greater trust in their own online assessments and interview processes than they do in institutions attended and grades achieved. Recruiters have long complained that a candidate's degree result is not a reliable indicator of their workplace potential.
Perhaps the whole university model is simply obsolete. There's a parallel with how manufacturing has moved forward. If you needed to make a mockup of a widget a few years ago, you had to send it off to a modeller or have it machined by a third party engineering firm, and wait for it to come back. Now with 3D printing, you can CAD it and print it off yourself. To make an employable knowledge worker a few years ago, you had to send them off to university and wait several years until they were deemed fit for purpose. Now candidates can create their own education profiles and career paths at home rather than buying them off the peg – and at great expense – from the traditional purveyors of the keys to the castle.
Cobbling together their own learning path can itself be seen as an indicator of a candidate's initiative and drive. Suddenly taking a three-or four-year university degree seems like a softer option for those lacking the resourcefulness to tailor their own education to fit their career goals.
So how exactly do you build your own education? By grabbing knowledge when you need it, rather than squirrelling it away for future reference. Online academies like Udemy and Lynda offer digestible chunks of learning, on specific topics, delivered by experts, designed with the aim of improving job-related skills. These mini-courses can be taken at times that are optimal for the learner, rather than learning it at some point during a degree course, forgetting it, and having to re-learn it when it is finally needed.
As anyone who has even glanced at Jeff Cobb's book Leading The Learning Revolution will know, the lifelong learning sector is exploding in popularity. This is good news for anyone planning to sell knowledge online. If your education and training offer is carefully designed to attract and catch people at the point in their career paths when they need it, and if your marketing and ecommerce channels are set up properly, build it and they will come.