Alt Left: “A Bachelor’s Degree in Anything and Will Train on the Job”: What Is Wrong with This Older Model of Hiring Workers?


Color me exasperated.

In response to this article, a couple of commenters (actually the two people who much to my gratitude help me run this site) left a bunch of comments that didn’t even deal with the premise of the post and instead gave the appearance of not reading the post. To which I say:

Did you all even read the article?

I was talking about not too long ago when many corporations and perhaps even government agencies used to ask for “A bachelor’s degree in anything.” Because most jobs, especially in government and business, don’t really need a degree. Most jobs are pretty much trainable on the job. So they hired people with “a degree in anything” and then trained them on the job and moved them up the ladder if they prospered in their positions.

Unfortunately, corporations and perhaps even governments have gotten away from this, and have started demanding all sorts of silly more or less nonsensical degrees in all sorts of joke fields in order to do some job that doesn’t even need a degree in the first place because it’s trainable on the job.

My statement was that this worked for many years. “A Bachelor’s Degree in anything” and then train you on the job. Somehow we have gotten away from this. Believe it or not even back then people talked all the time about worthless social science degrees that wouldn’t get you a job anywhere.

The reason corporations and governments did this was because “a Bachelor’s degree in anything” showed that you probably had an IQ of ~115, which is in the top 20% of the population. You also have quite a bit of the self-discipline, stick-to-it-iveness (or grit), responsibility, promptness, and ability to delay gratification necessary to obtain a BA degree at a US university.

So you’re smarter than 80% of the population, you’re responsible and diligent, and you have a great work ethic. Wouldn’t you want to hire someone like that? Also you have definitely been taught critical thinking skills and you have the basic background of a well-educated human being, which, believe it or not, transfers into even the knowledge needed to do all sorts of jobs.

Instead of acknowledging that “a Bachelor’s degree in anything and then train” was a good model that we might want to get back to, I got a bunch of tone-deaf comments about “worthless social science degrees.” The implication being that the commenters did not read the degree.

I don’t mean to insult my esteemed colleagues here, but it might be nice to hear their views on the premise of the article. If you all don’t wish to discuss the premise of the piece, fine, but please don’t derail into things that imply you didn’t read the piece.

Now these commenters are both quite intelligent, and one is very intelligent. Hence I might be interested to hear their views on this interesting topic that never gets discussed:

Please debate the following: In the past many jobs advocated “a Bachelor’s degree in anything and will train on the job beyond that.” We have now gotten away from that. The fact that this was policy in many enterprises for decades showed that for a long period in this country, those degrees were not worthless at all.


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6 thoughts on “Alt Left: “A Bachelor’s Degree in Anything and Will Train on the Job”: What Is Wrong with This Older Model of Hiring Workers?”

  1. OK, Robert. You seem to be confusing two different articles.

    You wrote an article entitled “About Those ‘Worthless Social Science Degrees’.” You lamented the fact that society sees social science degrees as worthless, as having less value than STEM degrees or business degrees. This is the article I responded to. Here you seem to be referring to a different article.

    This idea of “worth” or “value” is what I attempted to address. People have limited resources – limited amounts of money and limited amounts of time. They have to choose how they’re going to use these limited resources, which, in this context, leads people to favor degrees they think will give them a better return on their investment. A lot of people have decided that those social science degrees won’t do that, no matter how much important knowledge they can gain from social sciences.

    As for “hiring people with a bachelor’s degree and will train,” I’ve heard that for years. I understand the reasoning behind it. You won’t get any argument from me. The only thing I might differ on is your idea that people with bachelor’s degrees have definitely learned critical thinking in college. This is questionable.

    1. Oh, you were commenting on that article. Sorry. I thought you were commenting on the “Bachelors in anything and will train” article. My apologies.

    2. Employers have gotten very strict I think. If it were true they were hiring worthless degrees – then why are so many grads working in restaurants? O.K., well, the worthless degree impressed a restaurant. Wow! (sarcasm) Well, I guess a person could work themselves up to management – but they could have just hired someone with no degree.

  2. Sure, I settled for a worthless degree with the premise that people would hire anyone with a bachelors. But I took a bunch of courses that lowered my GPA – so what I should have done was go back and repair things. Well, I did go back to school and take some math and programming courses – of which I had at least B grades.

  3. The world values fake degrees and credentials more than it does true knowledge and real intelligence. Of course, if you’re a non-conformist, you’d rather die than play by someone else’s rules.

    1. A person without degrees – or at least high marks for a degree – might have to make it on their own. I mean, do superstar musicians have degrees (James Taylor, The Beatles, Michael Jackson)? Does anyone care?

      However, going on your own is a tough deal. You will probably have to put up your own cash (unless your a trust-fund type) – to make money. Well, I was discussing that deal when I was saying a worthless degree person can make their own blog.

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