One of the biggest tasks given to universities by society is to be a signaling mechanism for business. I have written previously that at certain companies they don’t even bother to read resumes from people not from the Ivy League. The university system then takes on the role of sorting the flood of new people entering the workforce. If you think about it though, it’s not an efficient system. There is more that makes a good worker at a particular company than just grades; indeed people are fired all the time for reasons such as personality conflicts or they just don’t fit. It’s always a struggle to find great people. Therefore, the universities have become the gatekeepers to many industries. This lets them charge a great deal to students in order to have those opportunities.
This may change.
Many people are working on automated testing in relation to Massive Open Online Courses simply because it’s impossible for a single instructor to grade 100,000 tests unless they are completely multiple choice. Apparently, they aren’t the only ones working on that problem.
Check out this story from Bloomberg
A handful of technology companies from Knack.it Corp. to Evolv Inc. are doing just that, developing video games and online questionnaires that measure personality attributes in a job applicant. Based on patterns of how a company’s best performers responded in these assessments, the software estimates a candidate’s suitability to be everything from a warehouse worker to an investment bank analyst.
“You have this enormous pool of people that’s being missed because of the way the entire industry goes after the same kinds of people, asking, did you go to Stanford, did you work at this company?” said Erik Juhl, head of talent at Vungle Inc., a San Francisco-based video advertising startup, and formerly a recruiter at Google Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. “You miss what you’re looking for, which is — what is this person going to bring to the table?”
The rest of the article is interesting too. What this tells me is employers will be able to select workers from a wider pool of talent and find the ones that would be the best fit with their company. Remember, today you need less workers to do a certain amount of work, so you better make sure they are the right ones.
Could this damage the gatekeeper role of universities? If so, that will have large ramifications for the future of higher ed. For example, degrees will have less meaning and there will therefore be more emphasis on skills. Students would be wise to diversity their experience with a smattering of useful skills, thus making themselves more unique to companies.
I’m really interested in where this goes.