Diversity and Inclusion

No Degree? No Problem, Says Events Industry

Graduate holding diploma

Skift Take

The labor shortage continues to be an issue, and many event companies are successfully combating it by eliminating the need for a college degree.

A solution to the event industry’s labor shortage is in the STARS — the acronym for “skilled through alternative routes.” These employees may have earned credits from a community college, finished a training program, have military experience, or learned a specific skill set at a previous job.

American companies in every industry — meetings and events included — have changed hiring requirements. They now accept those without four-year college degrees to apply and thrive. As a result, between 2020 and 2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that about 60 percent of new jobs in the economy will be in occupations that don’t typically require an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree.

President Joe Biden is a strong force behind this initiative. His economic agenda includes many jobs that do not require a four-year college degree. He is opening up opportunities for careers that don’t require educational credentials. At the same time, he supports programs that expand access to higher education.

An effort is underway to end “degree inflation,” a term that describes employers with degree requirements in place for jobs that don’t necessarily need them.

Emerald Removes Degree Requirements From 90 Percent of its Jobs 

Trade show organizer Emerald is one example of a company following this trend. About a year ago, Emerald removed the degree requirements from 90 percent of its jobs. “We removed it because we think skills are more important and are a better representation of whether a talent will succeed on the job. We are not dismissing people’s achievements who have college degrees. We’re simply removing a barrier for those not as fortunate or financially privileged to go to college or university,” said Ren Akinci, executive vice president, people and culture officer, Emerald.

DE&I Boost

Eliminating the need for a bachelor’s degree can also help a company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts. Further, Akinci points out that eliminating degree inflation benefits all, not just those who are underrepresented. “It benefits everyone, including the majority. Nearly four in ten Americans 25 or older hold a bachelor’s degree, so we would be missing out on six out of 10 if we kept the college requirement,” said Akinci.

Research shows that requiring a degree is especially detrimental to Black and Hispanic job applicants since they’re less likely than White applicants to have college diplomas.

Employers can solve talent shortages and improve diversity by focusing on skills instead of degrees. In doing so, they are recognizing the capabilities of the entire workforce.

A Harvard Business School and the Burning Glass Institute report stated, “Jobs do not require four-year college degrees. Employers do.”

Photo credit: Felipe Gregate / Unsplash