With the competition for new jobs as fierce as ever, a college diploma is no longer an asset job seekers can do without, new research shows.
A study by CareerBuilder discovered that employers are looking for educated applicants to fill not only highly skilled positions, but also lower-skilled jobs. More than 30 percent of the hiring managers and human resources professionals surveyed are hiring more employees with college degrees for positions that were historically held by high school graduates.
The research shows the trend is most prevalent among financial services companies, but also spans a variety of industries, including manufacturing, transportation and utilities, information technology, professional and business services, retail and hospitality.
"Employers are filling more entry-level functions with educated labor," said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. "While some of this may be attributed to a competitive job market that lends itself to college grads taking lower-skill jobs, it also speaks to companies raising performance expectations for roles within their firms to enhance overall productivity, product quality and sales."
The study found the decision to hire highly educated workers is paying off for most companies. A higher quality of work ― as well as increased productivity, revenue and customer loyalty ― were all positive impacts employers have seen from hiring more workers with college degrees.
The study shows that in general, specific qualifications for jobs are becoming more demanding, with nearly 20 percent of employers increasing their educational requirements for jobs over the last five years. Having a higher degree is also important for those who already have a job and are looking to move up the corporate ladder. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said they are unlikely to promote someone who doesn't have a college degree.
In total, more than half of the employers surveyed said they require an associate's degree or higher for their positions, while 44 percent said they require at least a four-year degree.
The study was based on surveys of more than 2,600 employers nationwide.