Technology companies are increasingly hiring for specific skills, rather than degrees, Jana Kasperkevic writes for Marketplace.
"We are seeing an increase in the number of job postings that are not requiring a four-year degree," says Cathy Barrera, chief economist at ZipRecruiter. She attributes the trend to the tightening labor market, which is forcing employers to make concessions about who they hire.
The situation is exacerbated in cities where tech talent is scarce, she adds. Places like Silicon Valley "get flooded with tech talent, people move to those locations just to work in that industry," she says. But in other cities, employers might struggle to recruit applicants and decide a college degree isn't really necessary after all, if an applicant has the necessary skills.
Barrera believes the trend could extend to other jobs as well: "This can apply to any job where the central role is dependent on a skill that is directly testable… You could be looking at something like say graphic design where employers start looking at portfolios directly instead of looking for a college degree."
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Tech jobs consistently rank among the jobs considered most desirable by today's students. Tech jobs consistently receive high ratings for salary, worker satisfaction, and work-life balance. In fact, on a recent U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best jobs for millennials, three out of the top five jobs were based in computer science.
The skills trend might also be a sign that a student's degree won't get him or her very far with employers unless it's backed up by evidence of skills.
Some labor market experts argue that too many graduates lack crucial "last mile" skills that can make the difference between being qualified for a position—and almost qualified. For example, one statistics course could make a $24,000 difference in salary for psychology majors, according to Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies.
In a 2017 article for the Hechinger Report, Sigelman pointed out that the job market is confusing and not transparent to many students. Students are largely in the dark about how "last mile" skills will improve their chances of securing a job. He acknowledged that colleges were making efforts to teach "last mile" skills, but argued that students lacked the information they would need to connect that training with specific job opportunities (Kasperkevic, Marketplace, 2/13).
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