Finding a better signal

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Forgive me as I quote myself:

Bryan Caplan’s The Case Against Education argues that employers value college degrees not because college imparts skills and knowledge, but because a degree is a good signal that someone has a pretty high IQ, is conscientious, and mostly conforms to social norms.

Simply put: going to college helps you get a job not because of what you learn, but because it tells employers about who you are.

The thing is, a college degree is a pretty good signal. It’s still true that those with college degrees probably have the IQ / conscientious mix employers look for.

So folks like me and Bryan Caplan who want to minimize the role of education need to help develop a better signal. If not a college degree, what tool can white-collar employers use to find good employees? 

One big thing is actual work experience. The more experience you have, the less your degree matters. So we should be making it easier to get white collar jobs. I just wrote a tweetstorm that suggests some concrete policies.  

I want to flesh out one of the ideas a bit more: have academics study the question. 

As far as I know, there’s lots of research on college as signaling, and not much on my questions. But there should be. Academics should be studying it, and then working with local firms to test and refine their theories. The more research and real-world testing we have, the easier it will be to move away from a college-degree as a useful signal. 

Basically I want academics to figure out how to make themselves less relevant!

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