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Employers Emphasizing the Importance of a College Degree

By Sep Barkhodaee
Published on March 21, 2014

Clearly, an educated workforce is beneficial for businesses and employees. In recent years, though, it has become apparent that the demands are shifting in many industries in this regard. While years ago, a college diploma may have been viewed as a plus, many companies now consider it a requirement when evaluating candidates. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 27 percent of hiring managers and human resources professionals admit their educational requirements for employment have increased over the last five years. In fact, 30 percent are hiring more workers with a college degree for positions that used to go to high school graduates. Those figures rise to 46 percent and 43 percent, respectively, in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries. So what does this trend mean for job seekers and employers?


Increasing expectations
The bar for education is continuing to rise. One in five employers now seek candidates with master’s degrees for positions that traditionally only required a four-year degree. It goes without saying that a college degree can be an asset to any job seeker, and even more now than ever. However, some cannot afford to continue their education, so companies need to seek out ways to enhance their staff’s knowledge and skill sets from the start.

“The economic value of a college education for workers has long been known, but as occupations evolve and as companies rely more heavily on professionals with strong interpersonal and technical skill sets, workers can’t afford to stop their education at high-school,” said Ferguson. “The trend toward higher-educated labor is already paying off for companies. We see that both in our surveys and data analytics research.”


Addressing an education gap
Some businesses may opt to offer financial assistance for those who are considering going back to school for a higher degree. However, this may not be feasible for all firms, depending on their budgets. Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, was adamant that businesses should invest heavily in development initiatives. Continuing employees’ training through online education software ensures that they are a continually more valuable to the company. Additionally, leveraging elearning could help workers remain competitive in today’s job market.

Fortunately, there’s hope for job seekers who are worried about their educational credentials. A recent Gallup poll revealed that only 28 percent of business leaders consider a candidate’s college or major a very important factor in the hiring process. However, an overwhelming 84 percent rated the amount of knowledge the candidate has in the field as very important, and 79 percent rated a potential hire’s applied skills as such. As business demands evolve and become more complex, it’s crucial for employers to offer staff robust training to prepare them for success within the company and beyond.

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