Gallup asks: College or knowledge?

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Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:00 am

When it comes to hiring, business leaders see a candidate's knowledge and skills as far more important than where the candidate went to school or what he or she majored in, Gallup said Tuesday.

A poll of business leaders found that 84 percent said the candidate's knowledge in the field is “very important” and that 79 percent said the candidate's applied skills are “very important.” Only 28 percent said the academic major was “very important” and just 9 percent said it was “very important” what school the candidate attended.

Americans “need to recognize that college alone is not enough,” Gallup said in a report on the survey. “Getting a job and achieving long-term success in one's career may increasingly depend on demonstrating real value to employers through experience and targeted learning -- and increasingly less on degrees, even if they are from prestigious universities.”

So, we don't have to go to college? Not so fast, Gallup says.

The point is that all majors, whether in business or the humanities, must “provide relevant exposure to critical thinking, collaboration, application of knowledge, and real world experience,” writes Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education.

Gallup pointed to Thomas Friedman's recent column about how Google hires. Good grades don't hurt, but are “worthless” there as a predictor of job success. Instead the company looks for technical skills along with leadership ability and the ability to learn.

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