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Raising the Bar: Companies Up Education Requirements

Raising the Bar: Companies Up Education Requirements
Credit: www.billionphotos.com/Shutterstock

The value of higher education in the workplace is on the rise, new research shows. Over the past five years, nearly one-third of organizations have increased their educational requirements for hiring new employees, according to a study from CareerBuilder.

Specifically, 37 percent of employers are hiring workers with college degrees for positions that previously required only high school diplomas, while 27 percent are hiring employees with master's degrees for jobs primarily held by those with four-year degrees in the past.

An evolution of the skills needed for many jobs was the primary reason given by 60 percent of the organizations surveyed for raising the education bar. In addition, 56 percent said they increased requirements because the tight job market has opened the door to hiring college-educated employees for jobs in which this was not previously possible.

Bringing in higher-educated employees has resulted in a number of benefits, the research said. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed said they're seeing higher-quality work, while 43 percent said they got a boost in productivity, and 38 percent said they have seen improved communication. More innovation, an increase in employee retention, better customer loyalty and higher revenue are among the other benefits cited. [See Related Story: Where Did You Go to College? Employers Don't Care ]

In addition to hiring more higher-educated new employees, a number of organizations are trying to increase the education levels of the workers they already have on staff. The study discovered that 35 percent of employers trained low-skill workers and hired them for high-skill jobs in 2015.

To get employees to the level they want, 50 percent of organizations are paying for training and certifications that employees earn outside the company.

Additionally, 40 percent of the organizations are sending current workers back to school to get advanced degrees, with the vast majority of the organizations paying for either some or all of the costs.

"Continuous training empowers employees," Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, said in a statement. "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."

Most organizations are also working with employees in-house to boost those workers' skills. Nearly 70 percent of the organizations surveyed offer company-run training programs.

"One of the biggest excuses to putting a training program in place is often the perception that it will take too much time," Haefner said. "However, there is no investment that you can make that will do more to improve productivity in your company."

The study was based on surveys of 2,338 U.S. hiring and human resource managers.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.