Are businesses and corporate institutions ready to acknowledge self-taught individuals? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Elyse Burden, Co-founder + CEO of Real World Scholar, on Quora:

As we know, Silicon Valley companies like Google and Apple are now more comfortable hiring people without degrees for highly skilled jobs; they announced last year they'd no longer be requiring four-year degrees from their hires. That shift felt huge - as some of the most sought after jobs were more accessible to young professionals, presumably without having to spend the four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on a four-year degree. But if we're honest, this shift is not representative of the job market generally and it's not exactly the wild, wild west out here; most hires still have some training or credentialling from coding schools or vocational classes (i.e. not "self-taught") and companies are still looking for proof of potential (be it some training certificate or a portfolio of work) to determine the best candidate for the job. That won't change any time soon.

But when it comes to what companies are prioritizing in new hires, some things are changing. While most companies are still looking at four-year degrees as signals of high-quality work experience and professional communication skills, they're also noting that college grads often don't have the necessary process skills once they've been hired. Turns out, sitting in classrooms, regurgitating information might make you a hell of a student, but not the best employee. In fact, employers commonly say that folks right out of college often lack the self-starting skills and entrepreneurial mindset to contribute to the team initially. This is why the World Economic Forum has said skills like critical thinking, complex problem solving, and people management are clutch for young people entering the workforce - because those are the skills that make and break companies in 2019. (See the whole list here.)

In 2010, IBM did a survey of 1500 CEOs, asking about the most important trait they were looking for most when it came to hiring new folks. Creativity was at the top of the list. Why? Because organisms that fail to evolve die and the same is true for business. More than ever, companies and organizations are feeling the pressure to innovate and evolve to meet current market needs - and that starts at home, right with the folks they hire. These organizational leaders aren't looking at creativity as a feel-good soft skill, they're thinking of it as a mission-critical skill- and mindset that their team will need to stay relevant and in business. Folks who know how to learn and have the initiative to teach themselves - both prior to these jobs and during - will go further, faster.

I'm not an economist and am not sure what the future holds when it comes to hiring criteria - or even how employers are filtering for these skill sets. What I do know is that a four-year college degree (and what skills it signals) is no longer cutting it and employers are willing to look in other places to find candidates who can learn in real time, work on new and ambiguous projects, and help take the company into new spaces.

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