Trends in Skill and Education Requirements Changing

Trends in Skill and Education Requirements Changing

According to Jennifer Schramm, GPHR, manager of workplace trends and forecasting for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), today’s tough job market has resulted in many individuals working in positions for which they have educational qualifications beyond those required for their jobs. “However this may not be the case down the line,” Schramm said. “Education requirements are climbing for jobs across the board.”

That’s the conclusion of research conducted by SHRM in partnership with Achieve (a bipartisan, non-profit organization that helps states raise academic standards), involving a national survey of nearly 4,700 HR professionals. The goal? To find out where HR professionals believe skill and education requirements for various positions are headed in the near future.

An Analysis of the Responses Reveals these Important Trends:
  • Almost half of the HR survey participants said that a higher education level is required for most jobs now than ten years ago.
  • Compared to a decade ago, the industries more frequently reporting higher education requirements now include health (54%), manufacturing (52%), state/local government (48%) and the federal government (46%).
  • There are also more jobs with specific technical requirements today than ten years ago, according to 51% of the survey responders.
  • More than 30% of HR pros who answered the survey said there are fewer entry-level jobs today compared to 10 years ago and about the same number noted that fewer entry-level positions are expected over the next three to five years.
  • Looking ahead three to five years, the industries reporting that most of their sector’s jobs will require higher education levels include manufacturing (59%), health (56%), high-tech (51%), state/local government (51%) and professional services (49%).

The Future of Additional Training and Education

HR professionals responding to the SHRM/Achieve survey noted that education (from traditional associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees to advanced master’s and doctorate degrees), as well as specialized training, can correct mismatches between jobs and skills. The training cited includes post-secondary certificate programs, highly job-specific training and employer-sponsored professional development.

In all, the research data show the increased need for additional training and education is expected to result in these changes for U.S. workers and their employers:

  • Nearly 71% of HR professionals polled said salaried, individual contributors and professional positions will require a bachelor’s degree in the future; 12% said at least an associate’s degree will be mandatory.
  • According to 21% of the survey participants, future administrative and secretarial positions will require more education such as an associate’s degree; 11% said a post-secondary certificate will be a requirement.
  • Approximately 31% of HR professionals stated skilled laborers such as technicians, mechanics, and foreman will need a specific post-secondary certificate or specific credentials for future jobs.
  • While almost 40% of HR pros who participated in the survey reported that the majority of workers holding only a high-school diploma at present are able to advance via a lateral or a one-step promotion, they say future jobs will require more education or training.
  • Over one-half of HR professionals expect an increased demand for candidates with a bachelor’s degree and about 40% anticipate that advanced degrees (including MBAs and doctorates) will be more often required for some positions.

“This survey reinforces the importance of having strong and responsive K-12 and postsecondary education systems that provide all students with the knowledge and skills they need to access, and succeed in, their careers of choice,” Sandy Boyd, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Achieve, said. “It’s clear that the world has changed and employers are demanding more from their new employees, and applicants, than ever before.”

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