IBM CEO: Hiring Based on Skills Instead of College Degrees Vital for the Future of Tech

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    Some argue a degree isn’t an accurate indicator of one’s skill. Speaking at the World Economic Forum this week, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty would probably agree, if only to improve workers’ success in the tech industry, which is “moving faster in time than their skills are going to change.” She believes it’s tough to get and retain jobs in the tech sector and is calling on companies to hire based on skill as a potential remedy for that.

    “I think businesses have to believe I’ll hire for skills, not just their degrees or their diplomas. Because otherwise we’ll never bridge this gap. All of us are full of companies with university degrees, PhDs, you’ve got to make room for everyone in society in these jobs,” Rometty said as other business leaders on the panel nodded their heads.
     
  2. Inglix_the_Mad

    Inglix_the_Mad Limp Gawd

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    HR will not be happy about this, it undercuts one reason for their existence.
     
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  3. dangerouseddy

    dangerouseddy Gawd

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    don't look behind the curtain people, as you might see them busily automating you out of a job whilst piously pronouncing in public.
     
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  4. fs123

    fs123 Limp Gawd

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    Imagine spending years studying for a degree and being rejected for a job in favour of someone who left school at 16 and gained some 'skills' the company is interested in. You'd have to ask yourself if it was worth paying for further education.

    I suspect the degree holder would progress much quicker and further than someone who stopped studying early.
     
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  5. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise [H]ard|Gawd

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    It's unclear how they will validate skills. That's one of the points of the degree. While yes, there are degreed folks who can't find their butt with both hands, it at least shows some knowledge and investment in a career. You screen on that, then proceed to validate skills.

    Without Step A, you get 11 billion resumes all claiming to be superstars. Good luck. It's bad enough WITH the degree screen. (I interview folks for tech jobs quite a bit).
     
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  6. dR.Jester

    dR.Jester 2[H]4U

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    I work for a major oil refiner and they hire dozens upon dozens of college degrees each and every year. Most of the folks know very little yet the company will baby the hell out of them. I've always called it talent acquisition (or lack thereof) because they don't want those college degrees going to their competitors.

    Performing this hiring practice really screws over the contractors they hire, some of whom do the same exact job as those college new hires or full time employees.

    I would much rather see folks get hired on who have years of experience in the field and have certifications to back that up.
     
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  7. wizzi01

    wizzi01 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Four years of experience can be worth a lot more than four years of cillege, depending on the job.
     
  8. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    They want experience, but they also want people who have a base knowledge set. The people with experience may not have a degree, thus may not posess that base knowledge set. Otoh, the people with a degree may not have experience, and sometimes also lack that base knowledge set. So, you have to decide whether you want to retrain someone who has the skills but may be lacking some knowledge, or train up someone who (should) have the knowledge but lacks experience.

    If the latter is not a good option, it means something is wrong with either the schools or the people attending them, which honestly wouldn't surprise me.

    Generally hiring someone with experience but no degree is a matter of them having the right connections and maybe good references. At least it should be.
     
  9. TrevorR

    TrevorR Gawd

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    I'd argue that someone with a college degree is generally more well rounded and better at critical thinking than someone with experience. Which is the purpose of college. College does more than just teach the basic skills because degrees now a days require other courses to be taken such as humanities, sciences, etc etc. Something that experience doesn't necessarily teach.
     
  10. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    Which is why I said it should be the better option, unless something is wrong...
     
  11. Danny Dawg

    Danny Dawg [H]ard|Gawd

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    Isn't IBM being investigated for age discrimination in hiring/retention? Maybe I have them confused with another tech company.
     
  12. noko

    noko [H]ardness Supreme

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    I don't think college degree folks will be looked over - people inside of the companies will have a track record, skill set known and probably developed which may fit better, succeed, easier to get what results wanted then someone who never even heard of what is being done or with much less experience. Now there will be positions that hard math, computer skills etc. with some high end training will be needed which technical colleges, military training/experience maybe the better choice. I've seen both college folks fail as well as very experience folks fail in jobs. I just seen too many college degreed employees fail because they didn't want to put in the time, learn yet another thing or would listen to and use the experience that company already has available to them - lacking a good work ethic or experience. Sometimes a revolving door on positions.
     
  13. JustLong

    JustLong Gawd

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    While I didn't leave school at 16, I do outperform many of my peers who have degrees while only having a HS diploma myself. I also didn't stop learning once I left HS. In one of my first jobs, I needed to learn to support PCs and PC software so I could increase my sales. I read "Upgrading and Repairing PCs Volume 6" cover to cover to teach myself what I needed to know. Could I have done better with a degree, it's possible, but I also didn't have crippling debt from a degree to weigh me down so I'm OK with that tradeoff.

    I also recognize I'm an anomaly and never recommend people follow my path. I had a unique set of experiences in life, a little luck, good timing, and a lot of hard work.
     
  14. Lord of Shadows

    Lord of Shadows 2[H]4U

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    Isn’t IBM the same company that fired its older employees and replaced them with Indian remote workers? They are trying to lower salaries is all by standardizing the practice of hiring without degrees
     
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  15. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

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    If I recall correctly, I just recently read an article about IBM laying off most of their workforce aged 40+ and they were being looked at but I don't think it turned into an investigation yet.
     
  16. seanreisk

    seanreisk Gawd

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    The technology sector is a bit different than something like architecture or chemical engineering. The best people in the computer industry have a genuine love and curiosity about computers, and will spend a portion of their personal time farting around on their computer whether they are employed in the field or not.

    Too many high school students enter college not knowing what field they want to pursue. Even worse, many students leave college with a higher-ed degree without knowing if they want to work in that field. That's really bad for computer science, because it's possible to sleep your way to a computer science degree but be completely unable to handle the discipline, logic and imagination it takes to properly program.

    In a perfect world, a computer science degree would be a two-year degree on the basic logic of programming, followed by a huge world-wide library of self-paced instruction. And if I can speak for Ginni Rometty, not everyone would need that associate degree - I've met too many high school students who were working on 300-level computer science problems without any instruction at all. But the part we are missing is a vast self-study initiative that covers all the aspects of computer science that a programmer may want to explore. There's a shit-ton of information on the web, some even in course format, but most of it isn't suitable as class material.

    Another part of the problem is that people in the computer science field hate doing documentation, but that's a whole 'nother can of beans.
     
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  17. DukenukemX

    DukenukemX [H]ardness Supreme

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    This probably has more to do with the cost of college more than anything. What good are degrees when you need to be in debt for the rest of your life?
     
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  18. Axiomatic

    Axiomatic Limp Gawd

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    There is nothing stopping a college grad from getting an MCSE or a CCNA. Those are not 4-year tasks. They're 4-month tasks.
     
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  19. gxp500

    gxp500 Gawd

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    Yes they are, but that was in the past, the ceo is talking about the future.
     
  20. filip

    filip [H]ard|Gawd

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    She is full of shit, what they want is someone with a degree, preferably higher than a bachelors, with 3-4 years of experience. They also want to pay them far less than they are worth, I see that in my field consistently.
     
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  21. Kor

    Kor 2[H]4U

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    No shit. The industry evolves so quickly that anything you learnt 5 years ago is only half as relevant as it used to be.
     
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  22. pmrdij

    pmrdij Limp Gawd

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    Self-taught skills and certs should be FAR more valued then they have become for those without a degree north of an Associates. Most major corporations, like the one I contract for now (the company FYI was in the top 20 corporations by market value in 2018), require a Bachelor degree and they predominantly hire roadies instead of rock stars as a consequence. The mistakes I've seen made in the early stages of their career or years after being hired I can only laugh at as it reminds me of Carlin's comment about how no one is a loser anymore:



    Seriously the hours of work wasted and mistakes made are so glaring but for some reason this company gives these idiots several chances to redeem themselves...

    I have witnessed the reverse of this logic on such a frequent basis in the tech industry that it has had me in tears often questioning why I work as hard as I do vs. how much better my life would have been if I had instead lost my morals and become an evangelical church person, drug lord or politician.

    Imagine suffering people with degrees whom 1. get paid more than you do FOR THE SAME JOB and 2. get stocks and other bonuses on a quarterly/annual basis asking you "how do I" questions... Best of all they never learn a fucking thing from you despite asking you the same questions 3+ times and their management is indifferent to the fact that you respond to their email CC'ing them with the response you gave the last time they asked you three months ago. I mean surely someone without a degree is the inferior here despite the one with the degree can't seem to go out of their way to learn/Google anything on their own because they've been given a position simply due to the fact that they PAID to be taught a skill that got them a job because the company values that piece of paid for paper...
     
  23. coynatha

    coynatha Limp Gawd

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    I went ahead an obtained my SolidWorks Expert certification. It was pretty sad applying for jobs as a SolidWorks Designer/Design Engineer and the powers that be had NO IDEA WHAT A CSWE WAS. Just putting down "Solidworks" as a feature on my resume would have sufficed.

    So I pretty much just tell people, yeah, I'm better than SolidWorks than anyone in your company/firm and roll my eyes at the raised eyebrows.
     
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  24. Twisted Kidney

    Twisted Kidney 2[H]4U

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    Except that a complex degree also indicates that you have acquired a shit load of secondary skills vital to life as a professional and also that you are capable of finishing something you start. Whether it's a professional certification, a trades license, or an advanced degree, your willingness to attain one tells me a huge amount about how you approach EVERYTHING that requires effort.

    If I see one more near-vegetable tell me he was "too smart" for school and got bored I'll scream. The problem is that you're lazy, you didn't want to pay your dues and earn something. Please McLook for somebody who McHappens to be McHiring when you have a McChance, that's more your McSpeed.
     
  25. IRSmurf

    IRSmurf 2[H]4U

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    A stem degree with a good GPA from a reputable university is indicative of person's ability to learn and be trained. It's not an indication of experience or knowledge. When a company spends tens of thousands of dollars recruiting engineers to entry level positions, you're going to need a long and storied portfolio to stand out from the crowd of diploma holders. I know my employer will recruit people without degrees. With or without one, everyone goes through the academy for entry level positions.

    Recruits spend six to twelve weeks developing a useful tool with a couple partners. They have an hour or two a day with a mentor, who participates in code reviews and provides weekly evaluations of traits regarding personality and technical abilities. Every two weeks, proficient recruits present the progress they've made on their project to a room of recruiting teams. The recruit has to prove to a team they've got the drive, intellect, and personality to join their team. If they fail to improve on a mentor's evaluation before demonstrating proficiency or if no team selects them in three or four presentations, they're fired.

    I went through the academy, myself. Seems like an ideal process, to me. That said, out of the hundreds of engineers in my org, I've only known one that didn't have at least a bachelors. That person has exceptional ability.
     
  26. c_porter

    c_porter [H]Lite

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    I don't know about all that. I own a small software consulting/dev firm that hires top talent. The best indicator that someone is a professional and finishes what they start is that they've successfully shipped code in the past - preferably at a small company. We don't even look at where/if they went to school. Nobody cares. Clients certainly don't care.

    As it happens, we have one person with a CS degree (and History!), a couple people who were hired out of college and so never got the paperwork, and everyone else never went to college.

    They McMake scads of cash and never touch a McOffice. I think they'll be just fine.
     
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  27. MrGuvernment

    MrGuvernment [H]ard as it Gets

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    False, i dropped out of high school in grade 10 and am self taught in IT for the most part, put me and some college grad in a room and have a high pressure situation come up and watch them fail..

    Many self taught people think outside of the box vs "some" people who have certs know how to read a book and write down the answers.
     
  28. MrGuvernment

    MrGuvernment [H]ard as it Gets

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    Sure it shows that someone can complete something, but by no means does it determine how they may produce once in the working world. I dropped out of highschool because I was bored and it did not challenge me and also depression and other crap. I am now 39, making excellent money for being in I.T and keep myself educated in my field every day.
     
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  29. Dan_D

    Dan_D [H]ard as it Gets

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    It's actually been this way in the tech industry for a number of years at several companies. At one point, anyone who claimed to have skills with computers could get a high paying tech job. That wasn't an indicator of skill, so companies started hiring based on certifications and college degrees. That didn't work out either as people with degrees often had no practical experience and poor retention of what they were taught in the first place. So, companies started hiring based on work history. If you've got 20 years in the business doing a wide variety of things in the tech sector, you can pretty easily find work if you live in the right market.
     
  30. Bigshrimp

    Bigshrimp Limp Gawd

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    I totally believe experience is worth more than a college degree in some fields. So much can be learned on any subject without the need of a 4 year university course. Whatever that subject is, is easily obtainable online.
     
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  31. DocNo

    DocNo Gawd

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    https://discoverpraxis.com

    We need more stuff like that, not 4 year degrees from schools more interested in indoctrination vs. education.

    All cheap government backed student loans have done is jack up the tuition costs, saddling our youth with crushing debt and made bachelor degrees so plentiful that they are now not much better than a high school diploma was 15 years ago.
     
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  32. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    I agree that a focus on skills is important, but I also don't feel we should discount the intangible values of a degree.

    Degrees tend to teach ways of thinking, rather than specific skills, thus resulting in more adaptible, open minded and innovative workers.

    I guess it really depends on what you are looking for.
     
  33. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    I don't know where you got this idea.

    I was in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at Umass when I was there, but many of my friends at the time were in the Computer Science programs. That curriculum was one of the most rigorous ones I have ever seen. The Engineers and Computer Science majors would often comiserate about homework, working on it until the early hours of the morning in the dorm lounges, us on our statics, dynamics and machine component design classes, them over eigen vectors and database problems.

    Anyone who tried to sleep their way through at least the Umass Amherst Computer Science program would have slept their way straight to dropping out.
     
  34. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    It very much depends on which uni you went to. Some are like gen ed degrees with a few high-school level comp sci courses and maybe one or two at the next level.

    Well, that's the impression I got when I was looking into it. Looks like at least ULL has a decent curriculum.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
  35. seanreisk

    seanreisk Gawd

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    I'm not speaking to your experience. I'm speaking to mine. I've had too many fresh employees from prestigious universities wreck databases. I can concede that I may have overstated 'sleep your way to a computer science degree', but I've seen too many people who graduated with honors and interview well who can't be trusted to create a program that writes data to a database. I consulted for a company that had to fire a guy with a Masters from CalTech, they were paying him $100k a year and he kept making freshman mistakes. He wouldn't keep his hands off the live data.


    I'm glad it worked for you. I'm not saying that all curriculums (or even any curriculum) are bad, I'm saying that I've seen too many people do great in college-level computer science classes that did not have the right mental skills to be trusted to write code. There's a reason the new guy is writing forms for the company questionnaire, and it's because no one is gonna trust him with payroll until he's shown his quality.
     
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  36. HAL_404

    HAL_404 Limp Gawd

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    "it's either black or white" thinking.

    "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak highlighted the fact that he had offered his original design for the Apple I personal computer to his former employer, HP, 5 times, but was turned down each time." - Appleinsider

    back when I was a repair tech for HP the scuttle butt was: Steve was a repair tech for HP and offered his computer to HP but they turned him down, just like the above article quote states but ... the reason they turned it down was arrogance and pride:

    The way they viewed it was that Steve ONLY had an Associates Degree.

    True story ...
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
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  37. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    Comparing a 16 year old high school dropout to someone with a 4 year degree?
    Doubt that would ever come up.

    How about comparing a high school graduate with several years experience to someone with a 4 year college degree and no experience?

    Some of the worse/most clueless managers I've ever worked with had fancy 4 year degrees. They usually had them framed and hanging in their office.


    I remember a manager years ago who would always look at someone's degree before hiring them, even if the degree was in something else.
    Experience didn't matter.

    Most of these hires where worthless and barely knew what they where doing.
    I ended up working for this manage due to changes in the company.

    He never liked me because I only had a 2 year degree, even though I was the lone phone support person for about 80% of the companies sales.
    His team of 4 supported the other 20%, and eventually, after most of them were fired, I ended up having to cleaning up the mess they created.

    He was shocked when everyone who was left eventually turned on him and he was fired.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
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  38. kromc5

    kromc5 [H]Lite

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    After 12 years at IBM at 205/201 the hiring was not so much about skills. With an internal server called rtpeagle created for 2+ hour lunch parties for special people they were not to concerned with abilities to do the job. If you were special you could ruin 25k in 5i cards in a day and get promoted. Even better I have pulled the power on servers and somehow they would pass the entire test bed over a 3 month period without power. List could go on for pages.
     
  39. focbde

    focbde Gawd

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    As someone who has interviewed and hired employees in the tech sector, I can happily put my hand up and say that I would always take the experienced, skilled candidate with no degree over a fresh degree graduate. The golden option is of course someone with both, but...

    I realise this may seem unfair to the graduate - they have to start somewhere after all, and I do see the problem here - however it has also been my experience that graduates, whilst they may be incredibly bright, and hard working, and have mastered their degree, are actually a victim of the syllabus for the course, coming out with what is essentially a degree which doesn't provide them with much real-world applicable knowledge. Naturally this is not always the case, and it will vary greatly, but as others have pointed out it is not an infrequent occurrence to come across a very qualified person who can do absolutely nothing at all, other than study well.
     
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  40. rigurat

    rigurat Limp Gawd

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    When the hobbyist / enthusiast knows more about computers than the IT guy.
     
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