Employers Raising Their Educational Requirements

HR & Safety

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, nearly a third (32%) of employers have increased their educational requirements over the past five years.
More than a quarter (27%) are hiring employees with master’s degrees for positions primarily held by those with four-year degrees in the past, and 37% are hiring employees with college degrees for positions that had been primarily held by those with high school degrees.
More than 2,300 hiring and human resource managers in the private sector across industries participated in the nationwide survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder.

Focus on the Middle

According to the survey, of the employers who have increased their education requirements in the past five years, most have done so for middle-skill jobs:

  • Entry-level or low-skill: 46%
  • Middle-skill: 61%
  • High-skill: 43%

When asked why they are hiring more employees with college degrees for positions that had been primarily for those with high school diplomas in the past, 60% of these employers said skills for those positions have evolved, requiring higher-educated labor, and 56% said they’re able to get college-educated labor for those positions because of the tight job market.

Impact of Tougher Requirements

As a result of increasing their educational requirements, employers have witnessed a positive impact on:

  • Higher quality work: 57%
  • Productivity: 43%
  • Communication: 38%
  • Innovation/idea generation: 37%
  • Employee retention: 32%
  • Customer loyalty: 25%
  • Revenue: 21%

Higher degrees not only boost candidates’ chances of getting hired, but they can help their chances of getting promoted as well—36% of employers say they are unlikely to promote someone who doesn’t have a college degree.

Companies Take Responsibility for Training

Not all of the pressure to increase their education is on employees, however.
Some companies are taking a proactive approach to bridging the skills gap and overcoming the talent shortage by reskilling employees themselves.
More than a third of employers (35%) trained low-skill workers and hired them for high-skill jobs in 2015, and a similar proportion (33%) plan to do the same this year.
Similarly, 64% of employers said they plan to hire people who have the majority of skills they require and provide training to them for the rest.
To help employees gain the skills they need, half of employers (50%) pay for training and certifications that employees earn outside the company, and 40% are sending current employees back to school to get an advanced degree—with 23% funding it partially and 12% providing full funding.
Others are taking training in-house. Nearly seven in 10 employers (68%) said their company offers training programs to employees, and the majority of these employers say these training programs offer soft skills (71%) or hard skills (72%).
“Continuous training empowers employees. It gives them the confidence that they are up-to-date with new developments in their industry and have a stronger understanding of the company’s future,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder.
“One of the biggest excuses [for not] putting a training program in place is often the perception that it will take too much time; however, there is no investment that you can make that will do more to improve productivity in your company.”


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