In recent years, bachelor’s degrees have gone from giving young professionals a leg up in the job market to being a must-have credential for a wide range of careers, with college graduates taking the vast majority of new jobs created in the US since the end of the Great Recession nearly a decade ago. More recently, however, employers have begun to question whether these degrees are always necessary and dropping degree requirements for some roles.
A tight labor market and talent shortages in high-demand fields are driving this trend further. Last week, the Wall Street Journal highlighted an analysis of 15 million job ads by Burning Glass Technologies, which found that the share of job postings requiring a college degree had fallen from 32 percent to 30 percent between 2017 and the first half of 2018, down from 34 percent in 2012. Work experience requirements are also declining, with only 23 percent of entry-level jobs asking applicants for three years of experience or more, compared to 29 percent in 2012. That means there are an additional 1.2 million jobs accessible to candidates with little or no experience today than a few years ago.
With growing numbers of unfilled jobs, more companies are looking for ways to broaden their talent pool and speed up the rate at which they can fill a role. “Downskilling,” or requiring less work experience and education, is a strategy many companies have opted for to achieve this. One field in which many employers have “downskilled” to broaden their applicant pool is cybersecurity.
The value of a college degree has been called into question in recent years, partly because many of the most dependable jobs in today’s economy are technical roles that employees can prepare for through alternative education; IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has begun speaking of “new collar” employees who she expects to perform many new, high-tech roles that don’t necessarily require an advanced degree.
In the meantime, alternative forms of education like online programs and coding bootcamps are producing an ever-greater number of candidates who may have the skills employers need, but not the diplomas they are looking for. “As such alternative forms of education become more common, Lauren Dixon wonders at Talent Economy, “what will it take for recruiters to equate the credibility of skills earned through these new platforms with those earned through more conventional education?”
By requiring a college degree for many roles, employers might be limiting their candidate pool too much, leading to today’s persistent skills gap. … “When you only recruit from the same pools that you’ve traditionally recruited from, obviously the supply there is not sufficient to cover the demand,” said Kieran Luke, general manager of credentials at General Assembly, a global education company specializing in in-demand skills based in New York.
Justifying the cost of a college education is getting harder and harder these days, with studies finding that many college students fail to graduate or don’t acquire the skills that will help them in the workforce, after taking on sometimes crippling levels of debt. But if young Americans increasingly can’t afford to go to college, a new study out of Georgetown makes clear that they really can’t afford not to. CNN Money’s Tami Luhby highlights the report’s key findings:
Of the 11.6 million jobs created after the Great Recession, 8.4 million went to those with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a new report from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. Another 3 million went to those with associate’s degrees or some college education. …
Some 45% of Americans age 25 to 64 have an associate’s degree or higher, while 23% have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some 42% of young adults age 18 to 24 are enrolled in higher education. Americans with only high school diplomas represent a shrinking share of the workforce. This year, for the first time, college grads made up a larger slice of the labor market than those without higher education, by 36% to 34%, respectively. Until the early 80s, more than 70% of Americans entered the workforce right out of high school.
At the Washington Post, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel delves into more details: