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Employer demand for degrees projected to grow strongly in US

Employer demand for degrees projected to grow strongly in US

Times Higher Education

Paul Basken
November 17, 2023
US employer demand for four-year degrees appears to be growing faster than the gains among certificate programmes, showing persistent strength for the bachelor’s as a signal of worker competency, according to new data from the Georgetown University Centre on Education and the Workforce.
About 42 per cent of US jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree in 2031, up from 36 per cent a decade earlier, the centre says in a new analysis that attempts to look at employer demand across the breadth of the nation’s economy. That anticipated gain of six percentage points is a faster pace than that seen in previous decades, the centre says.
Overall, the share of US jobs requiring any kind of postsecondary training, including degrees and field-specific certificates, is expected to rise from 68 per cent to 72 per cent over the decade ending in 2031, or about the same rate of increase as seen in the past, centre officials say.
The numbers are a reminder for US higher education that, despite heavy attention on certificates and some political skepticism about the value of traditional higher education, four-year degrees still command respect in the job market, said a co-author of the report, Nicole Smith, a research professor and chief economist of the Georgetown centre.
“Standing aside from politics, the economics is clear,” Professor Smith said. “The distribution of the jobs that are growing fastest are those that use postsecondary education intensely – in particular, the BA – and shows very strong growth over the next decade.”
Politicians from both major US parties, but especially Republicans, have been prodding US colleges and universities to put greater emphasis on educational options that don’t require the time and cost of a full degree.
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