More Than 1 In 4 Employers are Hiring Employees with Master's Degrees for Positions that had Been Primarily Held by Those with Four-Year Degrees in the Past, According to New CareerBuilder Survey
Most of the stricter educational requirements are for middle-skill jobs
PR Newswire

CHICAGO, March 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Time to hit the books again? According to a new CareerBuilder survey, nearly a third (32 percent) of employers have increased their educational requirements over the past five years. More than a quarter (27 percent) are hiring employees with master's degrees for positions primarily held by those with four-year degrees in the past, and 37 percent 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 from November 4 and December 1, 2015.

What Employers Are Looking For

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 percent
  • Middle-skill: 61 percent
  • High-skill: 43 percent

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 percent of these employers said skills for those positions have evolved, requiring higher educated labor, and 56 percent said they're able to get college-educated labor for those positions because of the tight job market.

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

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

Higher degrees not only boost candidates' chances of hired, but they can help their chances of getting promoted as well — more than a third (36 percent) 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 percent) trained low-skill workers and hired them for high-skill jobs in 2015, and a similar proportion (33 percent) plan to do the same this year. Similarly, 64 percent 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 percent) pay for training and certifications that employees earn outside the company, and 2 in 5 employers (40 percent) are sending current employees back to school to get an advanced degree — with 23 percent funding it partially and 12 percent providing full funding.

Others are taking training in-house. Nearly 7 in 10 employers (68 percent) said their company offers training programs to employees, and the majority of these employers say these training programs offer soft skills (71 percent) or hard skills (72 percent).

"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 to 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."

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,338 hiring and human resource managers ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between November 4 and December 1, 2015. With a pure probability sample of 2,338, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 2.03 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About CareerBuilder®

As the global leader in human capital solutions, CareerBuilder specializes in cutting-edge HR software as a service to help companies with every step of the recruitment process from acquire to hire. CareerBuilder works with top employers across industries, providing job distribution, sourcing, workflow, CRM, data and analytics in one pre-hire platform. It also operates leading job sites around the world. Owned by TEGNA Inc. (NYSE:TGNA), Tribune Media (NYSE:TRCO) and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

Media Contact 
Ladan Nikravan 
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SOURCE CareerBuilder