Feb 5, 2010

Many years ago I had a job working in the employment office of a large American corporation. My job was to hire folks.

There are very good reasons for demanding certain educational qualifications of applicants for jobs.  Professional jobs require specialized training, in an academic setting and competency testing. No getting around that.

Sometimes employers demand certain levels of academic achievement, simply because they can, unrelated to the actual demands of the job.   Ask yourself, why do so many college graduates wind up working in crappy retail jobs?  Does their work demand a college degree or is it that many art history majors have nowhere else to work, and they push out the HS and less-than-HS grads?

One day I asked my boss why we required that applicants for many jobs be college graduates, even when other people promoted internally to similar jobs, don't possess those degrees.

"It cuts down the number of applicants we have to wade through," he answered. "Plus it shows that they have accomplished something."

What reminded me of this exchange was an article I read this morning. The article was about cuts in GED funding by the state of Arizona and centered on a protest at our capitol building yesterday.  The protesters were a bunch of people who are impacted by the proposed cuts in GED funding.

Among the protesters was a 67-year-old man named Jesus. Jesus has worked his entire life without a high school diploma or GED. Most recently he worked as an industrial mechanic, until he was laid off.

Jesus told the reporter that he has been looking for work for about a year, but that all the companies he has applied with require prospective employees to have at least a GED. So, Jesus decided to pursue his GED.

So, here's my questions for you. Would it be right for Jesus to simply put on the application that he graduated from Joe Smith High School in say, 1961 (the normal graduation year for a person who is 67)? Hasn't Jesus already satisfied the minimum level of achievement the employer is seeking, through his work resume? Would it matter if Jesus was 37, rather than 67?

Jesus and people like him might also want to pursue a GED for personal reasons in addition to work-related reasons. Self-satisfaction and pursuing higher education come to mind. I just don't think that a person who has been in the workforce for 10, 20 or in Jesus' case, 50 years has much left to prove concerning high school.

Here's a musical tribute to working people.

Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong, sometimes just full of it, but always judgmental and cranky


The Bug said...

Where I work we used to actually verify the HS diploma or GED because our contracts with other companies required it. Now we just verify any additional education if they list it on their application (we don't require it). So if Jesus were to apply for a job where I work & put that he had his GED, & was otherwise qualified - we'd hire him. Now if someone told us later that he lied on his application we'd fire him, so it's a bit of a risk on his part.

I agree at this point that if he's qualified it's pretty silly to require proof of high school education.

Barbara said...

Much of this makes no sense. I have known many college graduates who weren't capable of doing crap. I always say the real purpose of going to college is to teach you how to think, not to really qualify you to do anything. As for high school, it's probably just more of the same. But it would seem that someone who had already spent decades in the workforce has learned everything he needs to know on the job.

I spent a lot of my time as a supervisor recruiting and hiring new employees. It's tricky business to look at a resume, have a 45-minute conversation, check a few references, and then hire someone. There were quite a few surprises after the fact...

Annie Ha said...

I don't even want to get going on this subject, especially in the mood I've been in for the past month.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ah. You were in human resources or whatever they call it now. That makes perfect sense.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

great song by the great merle haggard, so was this merle the inspiration of your nom de blog?? if so, sweet!

hey have you always done comment moderation, or is this new here on mws?