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Higher education qualifications have long been considered essential by businesses when hiring

When I was applying to University in London, I was told that if you wanted a good, well-paid job then you had to get a degree and you had to achieve a minimum of an upper second class honours.


To a certain extent this was true. On any job application I filled, degree classification featured prominently and was one of the first things you had to fill in. Organisations clearly believed that the degree you got proved how suitable you were for the job. In procurement, there may also be an expectation for a professional accreditation, depending on the level of the role and what country you’re in. 


Now, though, times are changing. Only recently publishing firm Penguin Random House announced that it would not longer require applicants to have a degree.


Talking about the change in policy, the company said it wanted a more varied intake of people. Neil Morrison, the firm’s human resources director, told the BBC that this was the "starting point for our concerted action to make publishing far, far more inclusive than it has been to date".  


"We believe this is critical to our future - to publish the best books that appeal to readers everywhere, we need to have people from different backgrounds with different perspectives and a workforce that truly reflects today’s society," he added.


Graduates can still apply for jobs with the company, the changes simply mean that those without such a qualification won’t be excluded. And that’s the kicker. 


Penguin Random House are not the only company to make such a move. Late last year, professional services firm Deloitte made changes to the way it selects candidates so recruiters would no longer be able to tell whether someone went to school or college. Meanwhile Ernst and Young (EY) got rid of a requirement which stipulated school-leavers had to have the equivalent of three B grades at A-level or graduates to have an upper second class degree. Now candidates will not have to include their qualifications in their applications.


Procurement itself has long championed diversity within the both function and its supply base. CPOs understand that their teams and suppliers perform better when they are populated with people from different backgrounds, industries, functions and countries.


If the function really wants such diversity, it has to follow the lead of the likes of Penguin Random House, EY and Deloitte and scrap such arcane requirements and encourage their businesses to do the same. That doesn’t necessarily make qualifications obsolete, but it perhaps encourages procurement teams competing for talent to think differently about the value of a university degree, or even a professional accreditation. 


Indeed, with the cost of university, in countries including but certainly not limited to the UK, some of the brightest individuals may find different routes to the forefront of the commercial world and savvy functions will need to take advantage of that. 


This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.

Tim Burt
Posted by Tim Burt

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