College degrees are the new high school diploma, study finds

College degrees are the new high school diploma, study finds

  • By: Paula Burkes, The Oklahoman

Published: March 22, 2017

Forty-one percent of employers are hiring college-educated workers for positions that high school graduates mostly held. And 33 percent of employers are hiring more workers with master's degrees for positions primarily held by professionals with bachelor's degrees.

Those ratios are up by 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively, just since last year.

That's according to a year-end survey conducted by Harris Poll for CareerBuilder of 2,391 U.S. hiring and human resources managers across all industries.

Over the past five years, 38 percent of respondents said they raised their educational requirements. Sixty-one percent said it's because skills for their positions have evolved, requiring higher educated labor, while 56 percent said the tight job market allows them to hire college grads for these positions.

“We've continued to see an increase in the number of employers raising the educational requirements needed for their workforce,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

“Roles across the board, even entry-level positions, are evolving and becoming more complex," Haefner said. "Employers are looking for workers with a solid knowledge base and skill set that can make an impact on the business right away."

Employers who've increased educational requirements report positive effects on work quality, 61 percent; productivity, 51 percent; communication, 45 percent; innovation, 41 percent; employee retention, 33 percent; revenue, 26 percent; and customer loyalty, 24 percent.

Lynn Gray, director of economic research and analysis for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, said his agency's studies repeatedly show college-educated workers do better in the workforce.

“Groups with lower educational attainments have higher unemployment rates and lower labor force participation rates,” Gray said.

Today's unemployment rates, for example, show about 2.5 percent of Oklahoma workers with four-year degrees or higher are unemployed, compared with roughly 4.5 percent of Oklahomans who hold only high school diplomas.

Meanwhile, as one example, there's been a sizable employment shift in the Oklahoma restaurant industry away from teenagers to older individuals, Gray said. From 2006 to 2015, employment for those workers aged 14 to 18 fell by 9.6 percent, while it rose by 66.5 percent for workers 65 and older.

In the CareerBuilder survey, 51 percent of employers said they plan to provide more online, competency-based learning opportunities to employees this year; 41 percent are sending workers back to school to earn advanced degrees, with 14 percent fully funding degrees and 22 percent partially funding them.

Read the original story at the Oklahoman.

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