With icons of industry like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, and Muriel Siebert (the founder of the first women-owned brokerage firm in the US) all leaving university before obtaining a degree, it clearly shows that education does not prevent you from becoming one of the richest people in the world. Similarly, Canadian icons of the automotive industry, Frank Stronach and Richard Branson, both did not finish high school yet built business empires that span the globe. The attitude on formal education is changing but speaking for myself, I am biased when I see an HR Degree on a resume. This is despite the evidence that my best team member of 13 years in business did not have a bachelor degree.
Take the example of Frank Stronach, who at 14 started an apprenticeship to become a tool and die maker. 71 years later Tool and Die makers are a high demand trade in Ontario, yet as I write these words Magna is advertising for apprentices that require a minimum of high school or equivalency. Magna is not alone; I have pulled my hair out as our clients have passed on Canadian certified tradespeople with completed apprenticeships and 10+ years of great work experience, all due to company policy.
There are 698 advertisements are currently looking for apprentices with high school diploma or equivalent in Canada. The argument many of us will make is apprenticeships require excellent math, physics, reading, writing, computer and communication skills. How is the high school requirement working out for apprentices and employers? The truth is, less than 49% percentage of apprentices finish their apprenticeship.
Fortunately, there are much better predictors of success than a high school diploma like cognitive ability, spatial, practical hands-on assessments.
Studies have shown educational requirements in job advertisements raise and lower employment levels. It could be that as HR professionals we just want to wade through fewer resumes, so adding a degree helps reduce the number of applicants and the decision-making process. I think our stance on formal education is changing and will continue to change as our level of employment returns to 2006-2007.
Kael Campbell is President and Lead Recruiter of Red Seal Recruiting Solutions, a company providing recruitment services in mining, equipment and plant maintenance, utilities, manufacturing, construction, and transportation. When he is not recruiting, Kael spends as much time as possible with family in the great outdoors and on the water. He volunteers his time as a Board Member of the Entrepreneurs Organization of Victoria and a Member of Victoria Marine Search and Rescue. You are invited to subscribe to our employer newsletter or submit your resume.