Employer Career Zone

Asking for Qualifications

On the face of things, asking for particular qualifications seems like a safe requirement. They are objective measurements of a candidate’s academic skill. However, the wording of such a requirement can, in fact, be discriminatory.

Example: "Candidates should have 5 GCSEs, grade C and above"

The GCSE was introduced in 1988. Anyone studying before that time would have O-Levels instead, making a requirement for GCSEs potentially discriminatory on grounds of age. Moreover, the GCSE is a UK qualification. Candidates educated in other countries will, most likely, not have GCSEs – this would inevitably have an impact on non-UK-nationals and thus be discriminatory on grounds of race.

Whenever referring to a specific qualification, you should always make it clear that you are willing to accept recognised equivalents.

Example: "Candidates should have a degree"

Participation in Higher Education has expanded considerably over the past few decades, meaning that younger people are far more likely to have degrees than older people. Requiring a degree can, therefore, indirectly discriminate against older people. Strictly speaking, employers should be willing to accept relevant experience that demonstrates the intellectual capacity and skillset to perform the role rather than insisting on a degree qualification.