No Degree? No Problem – Alternative Pathways to Tech Careers

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On January 30th-31st, LearnLaunch held their 8th annual Across Boundaries Conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. This event is New England’s premier education innovation event. Across Boundaries explores the cutting edge of learning and teaching with educators, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators from “across pre-K to gray”.

MassTLC was honored to be included in this conference, as our very own Program Manager, Nayla Daly, sat on a panel. The session was titled, “No degree — No problem? Exploring inclusive talent pipelines”. Nayla was joined by MJ Ryan of Partners Healthcare, Natalie Van Kleef Conley of Google, and Sean Gallagher of Northeastern University.

It’s no surprise that there is a talent pipeline issue. So, what are companies doing about it?

The panel discussed how employers are increasingly moving away from simply relying on a bachelor’s degree as a job requirement. Hiring companies are now looking at new types of partnerships, alternative credentials, skills assessments, and changes in their hiring processes.

A recent Northeastern study found that ¼ of employers are actively moving away from requiring bachelor’s degrees when hiring, while a full ½ are considering it. MJ Ryan, of Partners Healthcare, stated that, “Partners realizes there are barriers to entry. If you don’t need a degree to do a job, we remove it from the job description”.

Natalie Van Kleef Conley, of Google, chimed in with, “The more diverse your workforce, the better your bottom line.” To help address the scarcity of talent and the lack of diversity, non-degree pathyways, such as apprenticeships and coding bootcamps, are alternative strategies, according to MassTLC’s Nayla Daly.

All of these companies have found great success with these alternatives, however, recognize that it is hard to determine credentials for these replacements. So how do employers decide which certifications are valid for a successful hire? That’s still left up in the air…

But all in all, these experts concluded that alternative assessments are necessary for identifying diverse candidates, and the importance of a bachelor’s degree is increasingly going away. Stay tuned colleges and universities…