Degree announcement – Q&A

Posted 01.02.16 by prhcareers

Blog pic - degrees

On Monday 18th January we announced that we’d be removing the requirement for a degree from the recruitment process across all our jobs.

And what a couple of weeks it’s been – the story was big news – we were even the most-read story on the BBC news app on the night of the announcement.

We’re over the moon that the story’s made a splash. Not only do we want to break down the perceived barriers to entering the industry, we also want to contribute to the debate around social mobility and access to opportunity.

We know that some of you have posed questions and challenges around the announcement which we’ve been reflecting on and hope to answer below. If you’d like to know more, you can always contact us on our social channels – PRHCareersUK – at any time.

I’ve spent the last four years studying for my degree – will this mean that I’ve wasted my time?

Having a degree alone won’t put you at an advantage above non-degree educated candidates, but rather than thinking about the qualification in itself, think about the skills that you may have gained from your time studying. From being able to argue your point convincingly through to working as a team with your study group – consider how that will translate to a work environment and make sure those come across in your application and interview.

How will you shortlist if there are no filters for education on applications? 

We are interested in understanding the skills, strengths and experience that candidates have and we are supporting managers to do this too. We’ll also be taking a number of actions over the coming months to formalise this approach.

Will you be offering apprenticeships too?

We’ve historically offered a limited number but we’re excited about the possibilities that apprenticeships offer. So watch this space.

Removing the requirement for a degree won’t mean that people without one will be at an advantage either – how will this work?

This is about putting all candidates on an equal footing, and judging on the skills needed to do a job. Those skills can be learnt and developed in different ways and we want to formally recognise this.

Your online application form still asks for my educational background – why is that?

Please be assured that this is purely for statistical purposes, and will not be used to judge your application. Over the coming months, we want to be able to track the diversity of the educational backgrounds of our candidates, and the impact that this change and subsequent outreach activity might have on our applications.

Does this mean that I’ll need to focus on getting lots of work experience to further my chances?

We’ll be focussing on skills and strengths and we’re flexible on how those are developed. This isn’t a sign that everyone needs to do lots of unpaid work experience – far from it! You could be developing your customer service skills for example by working part-time in a call centre just as well as you could be from a couple of weeks’ work experience in a publicity department.

If I choose not to pursue a degree, will it mean that I miss out on the development opportunities that higher education will give me?

We are hugely invested in Learning and Development and in giving colleagues the support and tools they need to develop their strengths and do their best work. Whether that’s around software packages or increasing confidence around public speaking – we are strong believers that learning doesn’t stop just because you’ve entered the workplace.

Is this actually new? Don’t other companies do this anyway?

We think there’s a big difference between not calling out degree criteria explicitly, and then how shortlisting works in practice. Our commitment will go beyond our statement and we look forward to seeing the impact of some of the more practical measures we’ll be taking over the next few months.