In a bid to allay fears that Penguin Random House's move to scrap degree requirements for job roles will lead to an increased reliance on unpaid internships, the publisher's group human resources director Neil Morrison has emphasised that the company's strategy is intended to ensure it focuses on "potential, ideas and strengths" rather than simply qualifications.
Following the announcement yesterday (19th) that PRH will remove all requirements for a university degree for new jobs to attract a “more varied candidate pool”, Morrison told The Bookseller that “this doesn’t mean that we won’t be recruiting graduates."
He said: "Indeed the reality is that, in the short term, I’d expect the majority of our applicants still to come from traditional backgrounds."
“But by making this change, we are demonstrating not only that our doors are open to people without degrees, but that if you did go through higher education, we won’t place emphasis on the university that you attended. We’re not saying graduates aren’t talented, simply that to be talented you don’t have to be a graduate.”
He added that relevant work experience is "always valuable", but it "doesn’t have to be unpaid – or in publishing".
"Would a candidate who has spent time working in retail, running a website or helping irate customers on a helpline bring transferable skills and a different perspective to our work?" He said. "Of course they would."
He added: "We don’t want to rule anyone out, we want the best.”
PRH's new policy has attracted widespread attention, and, generally, acclaim. In a blog post for The Bookseller, Richard Johnson, c.e.o. of Bonnier Publishing, said that PRH’s move is “great news for the industry and a step in the right direction to bring publishing into the ‘new world’.”
He highlighted the importance of "talent" and "shared values" in prospective candidates.
"Sometimes a degree is an advantage in certain roles but it’s not a pre-condition to getting the interview in the first place," Johnson said. "In my experience, recruiting a mix of people is also good for business. People with different backgrounds and experiences challenge each other more. And if we can’t learn to think differently as an industry, how can we expect to move forward?”
A opinion piece by Morrison further outlining his stance will be published in next week's issue of The Bookseller.