ERIC Number: EJ1043395
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Sep-16
Do Employers Value the Bachelor's Degree Too Much?
New England Journal of Higher Education, Sep 2014
The debate over the value of a college education appears to be settled, not only do employers value employees with a bachelor's degree, they may actually value them too much. This author believes that there is a dramatic credentials gap in the American workforce between the education levels employers are requesting in job postings and the education levels of workers already in those jobs. This "upcredentialing" trend is happening even when the specific skills requested in a job are the same whether the employer is seeking a college graduate or not. For community colleges and postsecondary training programs, the fact that many employers are passing over their graduates in favor of more expensive, harder-to-fill B.A./B.S. candidates indicates that employers are skeptical as to whether associate degrees or other sub-baccalaureate credentials meet their needs. These programs are, or should be, the driving engine of the middle-skill workforce. The fact that employers are looking farther up the higher education chain shows the extent to which the existing talent pipeline is broken for many occupations. If community colleges tailor their programs not simply to occupations but rather to the skills employers really need within those jobs, while improving their students' "soft skills," they could produce a better-trained workforce, and do it less expensively than four-year colleges. Until recently, however, postsecondary institutions lacked a window into the specific requirements of local employers. Now a new generation of labor market data has been providing the visibility needed to allow schools to match the changing job market more nimbly. Part of the solution to this middle-skills challenge then is for community colleges to develop programs, curriculum, and validation mechanisms that represent alternatives to the B.A./B.S. and are more precisely attuned to what the job market demands.
Descriptors: Masters Degrees, Employer Attitudes, Credentials, Labor Force Development, Skill Development, Community Colleges
New England Board of Higher Education. 45 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111. Tel: 617-357-9620; Fax: 617-338-1577; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.nebhe.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A