The U.S. job market is humming, with more than 10.7 million openings across the country and more than 1 million right here in Texas.

That’s good news. But what might be even better long-term news is that the need for workers is shifting how some employers are thinking about college.

According to reporting from The Wall Street Journal, more employers are moving away from the requirement that applicants have a four-year college degree.

We read that as a good thing. Treating a college degree as the American token to upward mobility has created all sorts of distorted market incentives that are harmful to young people in myriad ways.

First, the cost of college has spiraled as the government has subsidized unsustainable borrowing so people at every income level could pay for school. (Now, the Biden administration wants taxpayers to pick up that cost.)

Second, the actual value of the education college students get has become increasingly abstract as fields of study have become more diverse and hyperspecialized. Universities across the country now offer degrees in hundreds of areas. It would be easy to pick on some of the sillier specialized degrees, but it’s no wonder they exist. There is a market for them because young people believe those degrees will lead to a fulfilling career.


It shouldn’t be that way.

The Journal reports that in November, 41% of U.S. job postings required a college degree. That’s down 5 percentage points from 2019.

Google, Delta Air Lines and IBM are among the companies rethinking whether a college degree is necessary to demonstrate the skills to do certain jobs.

There has long been debate about the proper role of a university.

Cardinal John Henry Newman argued in his book “The Idea of a University” that the goal of a university education should be the pursuit of knowledge in search of truth. That’s an ennobling purpose, but one disconnected from what many universities have become: jobs training in specific fields with a smattering of politically charged instruction in a handful of required courses.

It’s unclear why, if universities are mainly job factories, they need to be as expensive and elaborate as they have become.


Young people would be better served by a jobs market that didn’t demand they take part in the collegiate “experience” with its ever more burdensome costs and questionable degrees.

Corporations might find they are better off hiring people who decided to skip the debt, get the training they need and begin their lives without four or more years at Cost U.

Editorial by the Dallas Morning News

©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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