In his usual provocative way, last week Charles Murray – promoting a new book – argued that
Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know, not where they learned it or how long it took them. They need a certification, not a degree.
As Murray notes, certification already exists for some professions, but he wants it extended to more occupations. On Murray’s account, reliance on degrees instead of certification is inefficient, because the necessary knowledge to pass a certification test could be acquired in less time and at lower cost than years at university, and works against equal opportunity, because the absence of any common metric for measuring knowledge relevant to many occupations means that employers fall back on high-prestige university brands as proxies for certification. According to Murray