Are you experiencing Degree Inflation?

Are you experiencing degree inflation? It’s a tough job market out there and the changing landscape is peppered with changes. If your clients are asking you to fill a position and request certain characteristics, you’re going to do your best to meet those standards, aren’t you? So, you will search through your staffing software to find the ideal batch of job candidates that meet the listed requirements.

However, have you ever stopped and taken a second glance at the “requirements”? Evidence of degree inflation could be present. And that means that your customers may be specifying job credentials above and beyond what the job really entails.

For most professions, a college degree has become the corner stone of getting a decent job in the United States. It’s become harder than ever to find a job and the college degree is in the process of becoming the new high school diploma because it is often viewed as the minimum requirement now for any job. Take for example, the fact that many receptionists, administrative assistants, file clerks and office runners are now required to have a four-year degree to be considered for jobs in cities that have a well-educated populace and yet are only paid $10 an hour. The New York Times reports that these metros include areas like New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Yes, degree inflation is making its mark on the American job market. Across industries and geographic areas, college graduates are finding that their degree is no longer going as far in the market.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers who held a bachelor’s degree in 2012 had a median weekly income of $1,066 and an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. In contrast, workers with a high school diploma earned $652 per week and had an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent. Yet despite these rosy numbers, there are long-term social impacts that are now becoming clear.

“A growing number of scholars believe that the vast expansion of higher education in the United States has been unhealthy for society and academe alike,” Noel Weyrich wrote in The Pennsylvania Gazette. “Sociologists contend that higher education has gained vast public subsidies by promising to increase workplace productivity and improve social mobility – while failing at both tasks.”

Some researchers are claiming that the nation is over-investing in education. What do you think? Are we as a nation placing too much emphasis on education and creating this “degree inflation?” And are you seeing your clients request that all workers hold a college degree, even if they are administrative assistants or file clerks?

It’s an interesting time to be in the staffing and recruiting industry. The face of the nation’s workforce is changing and we’re seeing the future develop before our very eyes. After all, is the industry now anything like it was 30 years ago?

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