A survey of small businesses shows some are losing interest in hiring candidates with four-year degrees.
The survey of 70,000 small businesses was conducted last month for a study known as the Freedom Economy Index (FEI), conducted by recruiting service RedBalloon.
The survey shows small business owners disapprove of the state of higher education, with 67% of participants responding “strongly no” and 24% of participants responding “somewhat no” when asked whether they thought higher education institutions were “graduating students with relevant skills that today’s business community needs.”
“They don’t show up to an interview, and work is too hard, 9-5 is such a struggle,” one employer complained. Another said “the talent shortage will just get worse because high schools and colleges produce no talent.”
When asked whether they were more or less likely to hire an applicant with a four-year degree, most were indifferent, with 41.5% of employers stating that whether or not a candidate had a degree made “no difference.”
But 40.6% of employers were either “somewhat less” or “strongly less” likely to hire an applicant with a four-year degree. Only 10.2% said that they were “somewhat more” or “strongly more” likely to hire a candidate with a four-year degree.
“I only care about skills. If you ain’t got the skills, you ain’t got the job,” said one employer. Another employed disclosed that “we would hire someone with hands-on experience over someone that read about it in a book.”
When asked if they preferred “a job seeker who just graduated with a 4-year degree or someone without a degree who has worked in your industry for 4 years,” only 2.6% of participants stated that they “somewhat” or “strongly” preferred candidates with a four-year degree.
By contrast, 86% said they “somewhat” or “strongly” preferred candidates with four years of industry experience.
“Experience cannot be replaced with education alone,” stated one employer. Another said that “at this point, I’ll take the one with talent and imagination, and who didn’t look at their phone in the last 20 minutes.”
When small businesses were asked if colleges and universities were “fostering free speech & debate; graduating students capable of debating ideas & using critical thinking to evaluate differing concepts,” 96.9% responded with either “somewhat no” or “strongly no.”
Based on its results, the survey predicts that the small business community’s preference for applicants with concrete skills “may lead the renaissance back to vocational training and restoration of non-college-educated careers.”