Survey finds thousands of young people aren't getting hired for 1 pitiful reason

Businesses are asking for degrees even when the jobs workers apply for don't actually require them.

Education always has been something employers look at when they screen applicants, but over recent years, the debate about whether higher education degrees are worth the cost has grown increasingly confusing and heated. A new survey from the Rockefeller Foundation and Edelman Intelligence suggests that many companies across the United States might not be helping the situation, potentially contributing to their own poor hiring and retention rates by looking past trainable, non-degreed people.

Survey key findings

  • Both C-suite leaders (61 percent) and human resource professionals (69 percent) cite retaining strong talent as their top challenge, with 43 percent of employers saying that sourcing enough candidates is a top challenge when filling entry level jobs.
  • About half (49 percent) of employees note that the jobs they are doing don't use the skills they learned in college, while 86 percent say they're learning skills on the job.
  • The top metric for evaluating the success of an entry-level worker is how well the worker fits the company culture (57 percent), which suggests that non-traditional hiring practices might be more efficient than degrees for screening purposes.
  • Employers aren't offering perks young workers want the most. Companies offer health care (73 percent) and retirement plans (70 percent) for example, but workers identify other benefits, such as a flexible schedule (91 percent) and child care (54) as most important to enable them to keep working.
  • 69 percent of employers surveyed are screening applicants for a college degree.

RELATED: 'Rude' phrases to avoid in an interview setting

22 things that make you sound rude in a job interview
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22 things that make you sound rude in a job interview
You are totally justified in being annoyed that your interviewer kept you waiting. That being said, you get no brownie points for grumbling.

Yes, it's a bit of a double standard that the interviewee typically can't be late while the interviewer can get away with it. But the interviewer is typically the one with the power, so just get over it.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the job interview — even if that means showing up super early and waiting around at a nearby Starbucks.

And if you are late, don't draw attention to it or make excuses. Quickly apologize and move on.

This doesn't necessarily make you sound rude, per se. It's a weird question, though. Your interviewer may just assume that you're impolite and unable to work with others.

Never ask the interviewer any personal questions.

You should never bring gossip into a job interview. It's highly unprofessional.

You are totally justified in being annoyed that your interviewer kept you waiting. That being said, you get no brownie points for grumbling.
You didn't care enough about the job to run a quick Google search? Questions like this will make you look unprepared and inconsiderate.
Yes, you do. Claiming not to have shortcomings just makes you come across as arrogant.

Hold off on the profanities. Curse words will make you sound vulgar and unprofessional.

This one puts the interviewer on the spot. If you really want feedback, wait until you get the offer or rejection, and then ask in an email what you did well or could have done better.
It's great if you're coming to the table with a lot of ideas on how to improve the organization. Try to keep your language positive, though, or your interviewer may wonder why you're even interviewing in the first place.
Are you kidding me?

Seriously, contain your enthusiasm. This may be true, but definitely don't admit it to your interviewer.

Don't just barge in and start talking. You may be nervous and eager to get it over with, but remember to introduce yourself first.
What have you got, a date or something? Try to keep your schedule relatively uncluttered on the day of the interview.
If the interviewer offers, then it's fine to ask for a beverage. Just don't forget to say "please" and "thank you." In fact, you should show off that you have good manners when you can during the interview.
Yes, job interviews are all about discussing yourself and your abilities. That being said, you want to keep the focus on how you can help the organization. The conversation should always go back to that main thesis.
You're here as a job candidate, not as a super-critical interior decorator. Don't imply that you're disappointed or underwhelmed.
You really don't want to say anything that could be considered condescending to the person standing between you and a potential job.
Keep politics out of conversations with your interviewer. If they bring it up first, then do what you can to change the conversation.
This one's a toss-up. Some people are totally cool with being called things like "guys" or "ladies." Others get really irked. It's probably better to err on the side of caution here, lest you come off as belittling or disrespectful.
If you start talking about the nitty gritty details of your new job, make sure to avoid coming across like you think you know better than anyone else. Criticizing the company's way of doing this is a surefire way to alienate your interviewer.

The researchers also assert that companies are not taking advantage of more sophisticated screening methods that are available, and that the use of college degrees for screening is denying young people the chance to "get a foot in the door, build skills on the job, and create more meaningful opportunities for life-long career success".

In a discussion of the data, Wall Street Journal reporter Kelsey Gee further notes that

  • 35 percent of entry-level job listings request bachelor's degrees, despite the fact only 1 out of every 3 individuals have completed a bachelor's degree by age 34.
  • Employers located in areas where there are colleges and universities are more likely to request bachelor's degrees than those who are not.
  • 40 percent of employers say that high turnover rates connect to employee dissatisfaction with their jobs.

Gee claims that, according to economists, companies appear to be "up-credentialing" and using college degrees as a "proxy for soft skills". Employers associate the degrees with positive traits such as resiliency and critical thinking ability, even though individuals can acquire and hone those traits in ways other than going to college.

A costly way to get a start

With these types of statistics showing that there are clear disconnections between businesses and workers, it's worth considering that the current cost of a four-year degree can reach nearly $130,000, based on yearly tuition and fees data from

  • Public 2-year college (in-district students) = $3,440
  • Public 4-year college (in-state students) = $9,410
  • Public 4-year college (out-of-state students) = $23,890
  • Private 4-year college = $32,410

Although the academic value of time at a university or college certainly counts, the research suggests that getting a degree can be a pricey and inefficient way to land an entry-level job, and that on-the-job training might be a better way for companies to fill vacancies faster for the long term. As technology and market demands evolve, hiring practices and educational standards might have to, too.

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