Jack Talk: IT – is it time for ‘degree not required?’

By: Jack Bader

Over the years, I’ve met some pretty smart people, some with big degrees and even bigger titles to match, and some

Will the best IT talent get past your applicant tracking system when they reach the education section?

Will the best IT talent get past your applicant tracking system when they reach the education section?

with no formal degree, and a title that speaks volumes as well. In the field of IT, having a formal education certainly helps, but being scrappy and learning through whatever means available to you is extremely beneficial as well.

With technology evolving at a rapid pace, many universities and higher education institutions struggle to keep up with “what’s new”, let alone offer education for “what’s next.” Sure a few anomalies exist (MIT, RIT, UMR, WashU, etc.) but even those schools can’t keep up with the latest programming languages and other skills (ex: cybersecurity, big data) as again, the field changes in nearly a nanosecond.

In the talent and technology solutions industry, our clients have historically only accepted candidates with formal degrees. In recent years, there has been some relaxation with this requirement, but it’s still a tough sell and an even harder mindset to break. Hundreds of would-be top talent candidates are regularly passed over all because of a requirement set by an executive or Chief People Officer who does not understand what it takes to be a productive IT worker.

What makes this worse is the tremendous number of IT jobs that go unfilled because of the lack of qualified candidates; thus causing serious problems for many IT departments. One recent study I saw stated that only 9% of all the IT jobs ever get filled. Another study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, found that the demand for software developers has exceeded the supply by approximately 35,000 positions and is predicted to increase six fold through 2022. That’s a staggering (and worrisome) statistic.

But, there is hope. A newer crop of leaders is stepping up and stepping into the role of change agent for talent acquisition in these organizations. They are the movers, shakers, makers, and builders of truly exceptional teams of talent in IT. They are open to bringing in new forms of talent…trade schools, accelerated boot camps, paired agile programming and others. Their road to success, though, may still run into an impassable roadblock…that little box in the HR paperwork that asks if their selected candidate has completed a two or four-year degree!

This could be what stands in the way of YOUR company bringing on someone who could very well be your next Chief Technology Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, or Sr. Architect/Sr. Developer. Talent and a supporting team with the potential  to stand the old guard on its ear and lead your company through a renaissance and tremendous growth. Makes you think twice about that box, doesn’t it?