Degree decline and higher education in the US – opportunties for the cannabis industry 

A recent Wall Street Journal article discussed large employers who no longer require college degrees for certain positions. One employer mentioned was the State of Maryland.

Also included were IBM, Delat Airlines, and Walmart. Walmart is the largest private employer in the US and they hire and promote based on skills and knowledge. The decline of ungergraduate enrollment in the US is not new. 

The reevaluation of job requirements by employers is also a response to a hiring market that is competitive. For sure, some jobs in all industries will continue to require degrees no matter how the jobs market changes. 

According to a Harvard Business Review article that analyzed job trends data and degree requirements, this type of employer educational requirement decline is not new and appeared in response to the Global Recession brought on by the sub-prime credit crisis in 2010. The result is an increase in skills- based hiring. What also appears to take place as degree requirements disappear, more specific soft skills are outlined by employers in their job description. Leading the HBR article author to conclude that many employers equate a degree with the development of soft skills such as ability to work in groups, prioirtize and communicate well. 


For current and developing cannabis education degree and certificate programs skills based learning will be a priority. In addition, oft skill development embeddied within the curriculum will better prepare students for the workforce. Some students will come to cannabis training with skills developed in other careers or training. Everyone can get better at communication and working with others. Creating curriculum that can achieve a higher level of emotional intelligence is not easily accomplished. 

With an increase in demand for remote learning and instruction, creating opportunities within those courses for student to student as well as student to instructor interactions is challenging. One solution is creating content for the employer to upskill within rather than rely on external training programs. In the end, lessening degree requirements opens job opportunties for those who do not have access to higher education for all the systemic and unequal reasons. That is a good thing and creates change that can be capitalized on by both employees and employers.     

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