Research by the CIPD, a professional body for HR and people development, highlights that the majority of employers (57%) still mainly look for degrees or post-graduate qualifications when recruiting staff. While a degree is a requirement for certain occupations and roles, the CIPD is warning that too often employers base hiring decisions on whether someone has a degree or not, regardless of its relevance. By doing this, the CIPD says employers could be missing out on key talent, exacerbating skills gaps and reducing employment opportunities for people.
It is calling for employers to ensure that employers are thinking carefully about whether a degree is required for roles when hiring, and to invest in a range of vocational training options to upskill existing staff. The call comes at a time when the UK is facing a tight labour market and firms are struggling to find the skills they need in job candidates and in their own workforces.
The CIPD surveyed more than 2,000 senior-decision makers on skills, and found that:
- Just 32% of employers have conducted a strategic workforce planning exercise in the last 12 months.
- 64% of employers think that at least some of their employees lack some of the skills required to do their job effectively.
- The skills employers have the most difficulty finding in jobseekers are overwhelmingly technical skills (said 68%).
- Most employers look for specific qualifications when recruiting, just 24% don’t.
- More than half of employers (57%) of employers look for degrees or post-graduate qualifications from jobseekers. While certain roles will require a degree, for others this is often just to ‘sift’ large volumes of applications and can disadvantage jobseekers with relevant experience, but not specific qualifications.
- 46% of employers in England have heard of T-levels, which provide a vocational pathway for young people to learn technical skills.
- Despite the continued focus on degrees, a third of employers (33%) agreed that university/HE institute candidates are either ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ poorly prepared for the workplace and school and college leavers even less so.
Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser for the CIPD, said: “Employers need to stop thinking that generic university degrees are always the best indicator of a person’s potential at work. They think they’re getting ‘off the shelf’ capability rather than assessing the specific skills needed for roles, then wondering why they have ongoing skills gaps.
“More employers need to take a strategic approach to skills to understand current and future needs. This means valuing a wider range of experience and qualifications when recruiting for roles and understanding all of the training and development options available to employers to upskill existing staff.”