by CIO Staff

Reader Feedback: Degree Discrimination

Oct 01, 20066 mins

Reader Feedback

Degree Discrimination?

Once again, an article in CIO magazine about IT recruiting woes and the dearth of skilled prospects [“How to Hook the Talent You Need,” Sept. 1]. And once again, not a single mention of the large percentage of the general population being blatantly passed over because of their lack of a college degree. I powered my way through the entire article, wincing all the way. “Enrollment in U.S. computer science and engineering programs has plunged five straight years” (Page 40), “recruit them out of the university” (Page 42), and so on and so on.

To be fair, perhaps I missed an article you may have published extolling the virtues of hiring experienced, qualified, hardworking, nondegreed professionals to fill your IT hiring needs. But I seem to catch article after article that laments the lack of IT grads, and in almost every one of those articles, not one time does anyone offer the hiring of people without degrees as a possible solution to the dilemma.

I have 10 years of IT experience, from setting up PCs to configuring networking gear to writing training documentation to leading integration efforts. I am a certified Project Management Professional. I even have a NetWare certification. I have done customer service from the help desk all the way to the executive suite. Yet, time after time, no matter how skilled and talented I am or how respected I am by my peers, coworkers and superiors, my r¿m¿s sent straight to the circular file by someone in HR who was told to prefer those with a degree.

Just like anyone over 50 with a little gray in their hair who now faces the very real problem of age discrimination, those without a college degree are facing discrimination of their own. Forgive me if my sentences are long and rambling. Obviously, I have been impaired by my lack of a college degree, and thus, my ability to clearly communicate suffers greatly. I would ask some of the world”s richest and most successful people, like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Michael Dell, for help in writing this letter. Alas, they too are without degrees. It”s a wonder their companies ever succeeded. The time has come to separate one”s intelligence and capabilities from one”s academic standing.

Toby Fruth, PMP


This is not as crazy as it sounds. Chris Stockley of Skanska is absolutely correct. Technical skills should be the last criterion during a selection process. Today”s technical skills may be redundant tomorrow—some skills that have a bit longer life are comprehension, analytical abilities, interpersonal adeptness, confidence, ability and attitude to take on new challenges.

Technical skills can be taught, but you can”t teach the above.

Raja Yadavalli



It is interesting to hear CIOs write about the lack of business savvy in the IT offerings in higher education when in fact CIOs are getting exactly what they are incenting. When a law firm wants a lawyer, or the National Institutes of Health wants a researcher, what do they do? Forgive educational loans. What do CIOs do to students just out of school? Force them to move to the areas of the country with the most inflated real estate costs while ratcheting down entry-level salaries by globalizing services. This doesn”t happen at the CIO level, so they are out of touch with the fact that it no longer makes business sense to go into IT unless you go directly into a director-level position.

Tangentially, this real estate “geolock” occurs at a time when we have robust technology to promote the adoption of remote employees. We hear all the political rhetoric about high gasoline prices and the instability they cause the economy, but neither political parties nor their business members make mention of the national economic security benefits of having a more virtual workforce that isn”t wasting productive time and precious fuel to commute to a computer that they can access from their home offices. Also not mentioned are the untapped “invisible” workforces, such as unemployed persons with disabilities who can”t afford accessible transportation but who could work with assistive technology–equipped home offices, if CIOs didn”t write them off completely. Or is it that CIOs are just ignorant of this potential resource?

Also, how many CIOs make use of standards like HR-XMLs to determine competencies and support assessment in college before the students enter the job market? Anyone care to do the survey?

Lastly, maybe it isn”t just the tech candidates who lack the business savvy.

Ed Dodds



IT Metrics

I suspect it is all about perception [“Communicating IT”s Value: Tools and Tactics,” Aug. 1]. What do IT and marketing have in common? The difficulty of measuring ROI. There is a somewhat vague perception that IT and marketing are necessary and make some kind of contribution to the bottom line, but quantifying the magnitude of that contribution is the difficult bit. It is also the important bit. To what degree is IT necessary? Maybe we need better metrics. But what do we measure? Do we measure different things at different times? Are there acceptable baselines against which to measure? How long do we measure for? How do we interpret what we have measured? How do we value what we have measured?

We need to ask fundamental questions of this sort if we want IT to be perceived as a consistent and stable profit center. We can then leverage this credibility to create effective partnerships across all functional boundaries.

A. Siranjan Kulatilake

Line of Business Technology Executive

Creative Nexus 1356 LLC

Money Matters

Excellent article [“Show Them the Money,” Aug. 15] and very inspiring. There is, of course, much more to changing the IT organization into a moneymaking, entrepreneurial operation than a business-minded CIO. The entire culture of the IT department needs to be realigned from a cost-saving mentality to a profit-making mentality, and this implies organizational change; moreover, it implies a change in the organization”s investment planning and budgeting processes, which is not likely to happen without endorsement from the very top. Still, the prospect of additional revenue is the one argument the CEO would likely react to.

Simona Lovin

Program Manager

Pearson Government Solutions

Mike Hugos gave me the hints I needed to put in place the strategy of my IT organization. It”s true that most of the time we focus on cost reduction, but this is not always the view of the business. “Making more money” is the business language we need to use to communicate with the executives.

Eduardo Otalora