Is It Time To Rethink Degree Requirements? A Sit Down With Brian Matthew Rhodes, Esq

Outside Insights

Aug 4 2023 • 54 mins

We’re going to start this one with a question: How was success defined for you when you were 18?

For many, the definition of success was likely narrowly defined as “study hard and make it into a great university”.

Many of us today can agree that this definition is limiting. Thankfully, in recent years more and more job descriptions are shifting their degree requirements and instead honing in on “years of related experience” or technical expertise.

In our latest episode of the Outside Insights podcast, I talk Brian Matthew Rhodes, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at Opportunity@Work.

Opportunity@Work’s is a really neat organization that’s on a mission to rewire the labor market so that everyone Skilled Through Alternative Routes, or STARs, can work, learn, and earn to their full potential.

In other words, a four-year degree isn’t the only path to success. At Placers, we’re proud to help job seekers with diverse backgrounds and experience levels find work, so of course we’ve been big fans of Opportunity@Work for a while.

During our talk, Brian provided eye-opening perspectives on how degree requirements can disadvantage certain groups and why skills-based hiring makes sense, especially given the current labor shortages. Opportunity@Work has conducted research that highlights the on-the-job potential of STARs and points to them as a solution for broadening talent pools with great candidates that would otherwise be overlooked.

Here are a the key takeaways from this episode:

  • Opportunity@Work pushes for skills-based hiring so those without degrees have equal opportunities.
  • There are ~70 million American "STARs" skilled through bootcamps, certifications, and military service.
  • Research shows “STARs” are disproportionately people of color, women, vets, and rural workers. Hiring STARs helps uphold businesses critical commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • With today's labor shortages, expanding talent pools beyond degrees just makes business sense.
  • Brian shares his “5 fingers of success” and explains why he would tell his 21-year old self to be patient - a reminder I think we could all use.
  • How learning from younger generations and diverse viewpoints helps fosters workplace inclusion.

At Outside Insights, we’re all about changing the status quo and coloring outside the lines. By embracing STAR’s in the workplace, we can create a more skills-focused and inclusive workforce that empowers all talents to thrive - and I think that’s something we should all embrace.

If you were 18 today, would you consider alternative routes to a four-year university? Reply and let me know. Let’s discuss.

Until next time,