Last month, the U.K. office of the accounting firm Ernst & Young announced that, starting next year, it will no longer require new hires to have a college degree. Candidates for jobs at EY’s U.K. office used to have to meet the grade baseline of a B average in college, but will soon be evaluated instead based on the results of a series of pre-employment tests.
EY said in a statement that the decision came after an internal 18-month study of 400 employees found little evidence that academic success was correlated with how well new hires performed on the job. Further, EY believes that removing these grade requirements will widen their candidate pool: “Transforming our recruitment process will open up opportunities for talented individuals regardless of their background and provide greater access to the profession,” said Maggie Stillwell, EY’s managing partner for talent in the U.K.
Degrees and good grades have long been proxies for the kind of cognitive skills required for jobs in knowledge industries. But many say that these credentials don’t meaningfully predict job performance, and companies are starting to catch onto that. “There is a long literature in psychology showing that job performance and college grades are poorly related,” says Peter Cappelli, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who studies hiring and the American workplace. “It is remarkable how frequently companies rely on hiring criteria for which there is no evidence of it working.”