A new direction for publishing?

Penguin Random House UK axes degree requirement from recruitment process. 

In an unprecedented move for the publishing industry, Penguin Random House has recently decided to scrap the need for a degree to enter their workforce. They say it will enable people from a wider range of backgrounds to enter the publishing industry and will help their company to maximise its creative potential. On the company’s website, their HR director, Neil Morrison, stated that “to publish the best books that appeal to readers everywhere, we need to have people from different backgrounds (…) that truly reflect today’s society”. Morrison’s statement echoes the need for the creative industries to welcome people from different social, cultural, and educational backgrounds in order to remain competitive in a global market.

Though revolutionary for the publishing industry, it is not an entirely unique decision since several major financial firms, including PwC and Ernst & Young, have already begun to reduce the emphasis placed on academic achievement. However, with a saturated job market and an increasing need to stand out from the crowd – perhaps with that elusive First class degree – Penguin Random House’s decision will, undoubtedly, have left some soon-to-be graduates disheartened. At this point, it is important to look at the bigger picture: a degree is so much more than a piece of paper. It is about all of the experiences that you have outside of the lecture theatres: the societies you join, the roles of responsibility you take on, and the opportunities you take to develop those all-important soft skills that are so well-loved by employers.

This decision in no way demeans a good degree; all it means is that students must seek out opportunities to broaden their horizons in order to gain the skills which will demonstrate their suitability for a job at Penguin Random House. Many people often feel as though their years of academia do not translate into real life, so this decision may serve to underline what many already know to be true: that an individual’s ability to write exceptional essays on abstract topics does not necessarily mean they will excel in the world of work. Morrison confirmed this, stating that “there is no simple correlation between having a degree and ongoing performance in work”.

Penguin Random House’s choice to remove degrees as a prerequisite for future job applications should not be seen as a deterrent to graduates; they are simply opening up the pool of potential applicants, in order to offer everyone an equal chance of achieving their potential. Those who have a degree will not be disadvantaged, for if they have accrued enough extra-curricular experiences whilst at university they should be able to clearly demonstrate the attributes which Penguin Random House are looking for.

Ultimately, this move will not deter those who truly wish to become a part of this thriving, dynamic industry; it will only dissuade those who remain sat on the fence, and who think that this change decimates their chances of success. All that remains to be seen is whether more publishing houses will follow suit.


Rosemary Maher 


Image: Daily Mail. 

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