Credential Inflation

Credential inflation, also known as academic inflation, is the process of inflating the minimal credentials necessary for a particular job while at the same time devaluing certificates and degrees.
Credential inflation Sociology Definition


Credential inflation, also known as academic inflation, is the process of inflating the minimal credentials necessary for a particular job while at the same time devaluing certificates and degrees.


The Credential Society, a 1979 book by professor Randall Collins, has one of the early references to this idea. Credential inflation is the rise in educational requirements for a position, such as a job that formerly just needed a high school diploma but now necessitates a college degree for new employees. Credential inflation, which refers to the deteriorating worth of obtained certifications and degrees, is therefore analogous to price inflation. Credential inflation, which forms higher educational standards and examinations, can produce fictitious labor shortages.

Credential inflation-related factors

1. Credentialism

Credentialism is using formal credentials or licenses to establish someone’s ability to do a job, speak as an authority, or operate in a particular industry. The phrase “over-dependence on credentials, particularly academic degrees in deciding employment or promotion rules” has also been used to describe it. Credentialism is upgrading credentials for a job or position when there has been no change in the required skills.

2. Professionalization

The societal process of professionalization is how any trade or vocation becomes a real “profession of the utmost integrity and ability.” Establishing recognized credentials, a professional organization or association to regulate the behavior of experienced members, and some differentiation between qualified professionals and unqualified amateurs are often part of this process.

“A hierarchical split between the knowledge-authorities in the professions and a submissive population” is created. Since the profession becomes closed to admission from outsiders, amateurs, and those who lack the necessary qualifications, this demarcation is sometimes referred to as “occupational closure”: it designates a tiered occupation “characterized by professional demarcation and grade.”

3. Upskilling

Upskilling occurs when a job’s nature changes and calls for a more excellent education. Since computers and sophisticated architectural software have proliferated, the skills required of drafters have increased, making it neither surprising nor objectionable that these positions now frequently demand college degrees.

4. The elimination of job seekers

The interview panel and HR managers seek to cut down on candidates when there are many applications or when the job requirements are high. Credential inflation is the main result of this strategy of screening out job applicants. Higher the number of specializations is seen as directly proportional to the individual’s talent. In practice, however, this may not be the case, and businesses can lose talent in the screening process. Asking for Tier-A college graduates is an example. A subject graduate from a regular university should also be considered. However, Tier-A is created to eliminate many applicants.

Social problems brought on by credential inflation.

1. Credential inflation lowers the value of alternative learning methods. Not all learning occurs in colleges, yet insisting on a college degree misses this reality. Even highly experienced professionals are overlooked when they don’t have exaggerated academic qualifications, even though the experience probably contributes to learning more than formal education.

2. It obstructs prospects for a lot of skilled people. Many otherwise eligible people will be passed over if a job requires a college degree but doesn’t need one, which will impede their ability to advance economically.

3. The cost of formal schooling is high. When a job does not need a regular college degree, this encourages individuals to pursue unnecessary education, which is incredibly expensive for both the student and the taxpayer.

4. Students who attend college to earn a degree may be less interested than those who do so for personal growth.

5. Graduate school opportunity costs include delayed savings, fewer years spent working (and lower wages), and delayed family-starting.

6. Though the causal relationship between the two has been disputed, some scholars have linked grade inflation to degree inflation.

How can the harm created by credential inflation be repaired?

1. Permit companies to evaluate job applicants rather than vetting and excluding candidates based on superfluous qualifications.

2. Make the employment market competitive, which can be achieved by increasing the number of employers looking for workers, for example, by lowering entrance hurdles for company start-up contenders. More hiring is possible if labor markets are deregulated.

3. Remove unnecessary requirements for occupational licensing.

4. Need to create new techniques for certifying talents

5. Employers should stop requiring pointless education and modify their hiring and management procedures to place more emphasis on job skills than continuing to give preference to high-tier college degrees.

Sociological Perspective

Credential inflation, in the opinion of prominent British sociologist John T. Pullinger, may be analyzed from two social angles:

According to functionalist sociologists, this situation might be characterized as dysfunctional, meaning that there is a discrepancy between the credentials produced by the school system and the demands of the labor market. For people, many of whose talents and aspirations may not be matched by suitable jobs, this can also be problematic.

Marxists contend that credential inflation strengthens company control over applicants and workers via an oversupplied market, placing current or future employees on the back foot.

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