Executive Insights

Apple CEO Tim Cook explains why you don't need a college degree to be successful

Business Insider US
Apple CEO Tim Cook.
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  • Apple CEO Tim Cook says there's a "mismatch" between the skills learned in college and the skills that businesses need, especially when it comes to coding.
  • He also said that half of Apple's US employment last year was made up of people who did not have four-year degrees.
  • The comments were made during the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday.


While a four-year college degree has become a common requirement for many jobs in the United States, even for positions that did not previously require one, Apple CEO Tim Cook is taking a different stance.

According to Cook, there are certain in-demand skills that students may not learn in college - namely, coding.

"And so to that end, as we've looked at the - sort of, the mismatch between the skills that are coming out of colleges and what the skills are that we believe we need in the future, and many other businesses do, we've identified coding as a very key one," Cook said during the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday, during which President Trump met with the board's members, including Cook.

Cook also added that about half of Apple's US employment last year was made up of people who did not have a four-year degree.

The Apple CEO also said he believes that it should be a requirement for every kid in the U.S. to have some level of coding education before they graduate high school. Apple launched its Everyone Can Code program in 2016, a curriculum designed to help students from Kindergarten to college learn coding. There are 4,000 schools in the US using Apple's curriculum, according to Cook.

Apple is one of several corporations that doesn't require a college diploma for certain jobs, along with Google, IBM, Bank of America, and Hilton, according to Glassdoor.

While opportunities for those without a college degree are expanding, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics published last month suggests that there's still a sizeable discrepancy in weekly earnings between those with a college degree and those without. The median usual weekly earnings for workers with a high school diploma but no college education was $730 in 2018, while it was $1,198 for workers with a bachelor's degree.

Apple founder Steve Jobs famously started the company in his garage in 1976 after dropping out of Reed College.

"So we've never really thought that a college degree was the thing that you had to do well," said Cook. "We've always tried to expand our horizons."

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