Thursday, August 30, 2012
Credentialism Runs Riot
One of the most absurd aspects of the last few decades has been credentialism: "Overemphasis on diplomas or degrees in giving jobs or conferring social status." Yes, there are jobs where there is really a strong case for requiring that a person demonstrate a formal education, such as medicine, but there are vast numbers of jobs where this is emphatically not the case. If no one's life, health, or liberty is at stake, and where you can either test someone's skills, or the costs of hiring someone to find out if they know what they are doing is low, then there is no reason to require formal credentials as a condition of employment. Hire a carpenter; if he produces crummy cabinets, fire him. If he produces good work, you keep him.
At the end of class last night, I overheard two students discussing job searches. One explained that she applied for a job answering phones. She was informed that she was not qualified, because she did not have a four year college degree. To answer phones?
Unfortunately, I find her story very easy to believe. When workers are in such gross oversupply relative to the number of jobs, employers use credentialism as a way to winnow the pool of applicants. If the economy gets much more Obaminable, I could see a job answering phones requiring a master's degree, just to get the stack of resumes down from 1000 to 100.