May 01, 2016

The MA is the New BA

A new survey from CareerBuilder of over 2,300 hiring and human resource managers across different industries reveals that 32 percent of employers are bumping up education requirements for new hires. Of the respondents, 27 percent are recruiting candidates who hold master’s degrees for positions that previously used to only require a bachelor’s degree. And 37 percent are hiring college grads for positions that had primarily been held by those with high school diplomas.

Most employers are pushing their education requirements towards higher degrees across all levels of their companies. Sixty-one percent of employers indicate that they are looking for more educated candidates at a mid-level skill level, while 46 percent are looking to hire better educated candidates at the entry level, and 43 percent think the same for higher levels.

The Reason for this Trend

Employers argue that a tight job market and an evolving need for different skills are making it necessary to pursue this trend. For instance, 60% of employers who were satisfied with hiring high school graduates in the past claim that the work requires skills held by those who have completed higher education.

While the U.S. unemployment rate is at a relative low, 56 percent of employers say they are able to source college graduates for positions. Employers told CareerBuilder that higher education not only increases an applicant’s chance of being hired, but it also helps increase the chance that they will be promoted once in the role. Approximately 36 percent of employers report that they would be unlikely to promote someone who does not have a collage degree.

Impact of Higher Education on the Job

Impact of Higher Education on the Job

Source: Fast Company

But Some Firms are Going the Opposite Way

This trend is in stark contrast to recent announcements by the U.K branches of companies such as Penguin Random House, PwC, and EY. For example, global accounting firm PwC announced it would no longer consider certain exams when vetting new recruits in the U.K. because it excludes candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds. EY’s U.K. office discarded their grade requirement due to an internal study finding that academic success had no impact on job performance. Meanwhile, the U.K. branch of Penguin Random House removed degree requirements in order to broaden its appeal to candidates.

Many of the American companies hoping to hire higher educated candidates are taking the responsibility to bridge the skills gap. Thirty-five percent of employers said that they trained low-skill workers and hired them for high-skills jobs in 2015, and 33 percent said they will do the same in 2016. And 64 percent of employers say they plan to hire people who have the majority of skills they require and provide training for the rest.