Are educational credentials still valuable?

Is the value of educational credentials increasing or decreasing in the industry?

Education has always been a priority. In recent years, knowledge has increasingly gained much, more importantly, it is appreciated and rewarded. The development of new technologies and the emergence of new fields has led education to take a dramatic turn. More people now want to earn higher educational credentials than before. In a survey conducted by Northeastern University, 48% of HR revealed that the value of educational credentials has increased in hiring. This is especially due to the demand for new skills.

Employers continue to prioritize education and propagate the idea of lifelong learning. According to the survey mentioned above, 64% of employers believe in future advance education credentials will be needed. The report seems to be more compelling when we consider that one-in-ten American earns an advance degree before turning 30. Employers turn to workforce certification to upskill workers in the wake of new technologies and roles.

It would seem that education will always be a priority for employers, but some differ from this thought. A large corpus in the industry believes that educational credentials might not be significant in the future.

Cynics of education

The industry has been a little cynical. Many express that degrees are losing their sheen. Some industry experts, Clayton Christensen, for instance, even said, colleges might be bankrupt in the next 15 years. This sounds ominous when the world’s leading employers including IBM and Apple say that they don’t need degrees for certain positions.

Education beyond classrooms

Even though many world-renowned employers have dropped down their baseline for entry into the industry, degrees remain valuable to them. Burning Glass technologies in its survey found that more than half of all jobs worldwide require a bachelor’s degree.

The rise of MOOCs (Massive Open Course Ware) has been majorly quoted as the reason for the decline in the value of degrees. Online credentials are valued by employers. In the U.S alone, more than 3 million students study online. Among these students, nearly 29% are enrolled in graduate-level programs. Perhaps shattering all speculations about the declining value of degrees in the future? What’s more, a national survey conducted by the National Eastern University, revealed that hiring managers view online credentials as equal to or higher than regular degrees.

On the one hand, we’ve MOOCs for individuals. On the other, employers have workforce certification programs.

The world’s leading universities offer a gamut of online courses and short-term certification programs. What’s surprising, what started as free online education has turned into a for-profit business model for universities, assuring demand and value for programs. Coursera and edX, for instance, offer programs that are globally-recognized and require students to pay significantly less for online education than regular programs and make it convenient for anyone to afford education.

Business certification programs, on the other hand, offered by certification bodies to upskill a group of employees or one whole department rather than sending them back to universities has been hugely popular. As these programs are online, they save significant time and money for employers.


Amid industry skepticism about the value of degrees and higher educational credentials, popularity and demand of online degrees and certifications shows us an opposite path or perhaps it’s too early to decide.

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