There are more than 10 million jobs currently unfilled in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. ‘Help Wanted’ signs are hanging on doors and windows in most communities, and job listings online are pages-and-pages long. Employers are offering better wages, sign-on bonuses, child care accommodations, and countless other ‘perks’, but just as many are still struggling to fill roles.
Experts say job requirements, like transportation or having a flexible schedule, are easy hurdles for applicants to overcome. However, an overwhelming number of jobs also list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement for positions listed as open.
In many cases, the specific degrees sought are not even listed, because it’s considered an ‘add-on’ requirement. Why does this matter?
Around 60% of Americans do not have a bachelor’s degree. And since the hiring process is primarily digital to start – applicants without a bachelor’s degree get screened out before an interview even happens.
Byron Auguste, a former economic advisor to President Barrack Obama and CEO of the non-profit Opportunity@Work, says the requirement of a four year degree, especially for professional jobs has become automatic. Even if unnecessary.
The takeaway is that even though there are millions of jobs open – millions of people are being overlooked before they are ever really considered. Not only is it a problem for the businesses and broader economy, but the issue contributes to a relatively new form of discrimination where those without degrees, which typically take tens-of-thousands of dollars, and years to acquire, are left out of many roles they otherwise would fit perfectly.
Listen to what Auguste had to say in a recent episode of The Indicator from Planet Money below:
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