A four-year degree is not necessary for all professional jobs, nor is it a sure indicator of ability or mastery of a body of knowledge. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to consider and recognize alternative credentials in recruiting, retention, and job placement.
There has been some movement in this direction, in relation to skills such as software development. Coding boot camps have become an accepted source of talent for some of the world’s most prestigious tech companies because after two to four months of intensive work, participants have proved themselves to be job ready. In 2017, 80 percent of coding boot camp graduates found a job that used their skills, with an average salary of $70,698—well ahead of that of recent US college graduates ($49,785)—and there are similar efforts in Europe and Asia. At present, individuals typically pay for their own boot camps, but the model is successful enough that there could be room for public–private partnerships or for companies to adapt the concept to their own needs.
Nonprofit organizations also play a role. Skillful, for example, an initiative of the Markle Foundation, has convened 20 US states, as well as tech companies, educators, and foundations, to share best practices in skill development.