Recently, a new trend has emerged among employers that could benefit many eager job seekers. Some employers, it seems, have come to the realization that the jobs they’re offering really don’t need a four-year degree. The almighty BA/BA sheepskin has been replaced by specific certifications and OJT.
For those cash strapped job hunters who couldn’t afford to finish or even attend college, that’s good news. It’s especially good news because they can now enter the first rung in the company ladder at a time when college costs are soaring out of control. And ruinous college loans--that can’t be discharged even in bankruptcy--are condemning many students to a lifetime of inescapable debt.
Researchers at Burning Glass Technologies recently analyzed online job posting data to reveal an increasing number of lower-end IT jobs—like Best Buy Geek Squads or Apple Geniuses—no longer require four-year degrees. The same holds true for non-retail sales jobs. On the other hand, positions requiring an associate's degree or “some college” have grown by over 20 percent. Best Buy indicated that while most of its Geek Squad jobs require only a high school diploma or GED, the company places a high value on certifications that show the job seeker has the skill and aptitude to succeed.
Industry observers believe the job segments to grow the most will be entry level and top tier, with very anemic growth in the middle. The problem is that many of today’s universities fail to impart the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the real world. Their bachelor’s degrees seem to be aimed at the middle rung, not the entry level. This is where OJT and certifications fill the gap. Most employers these days simply want people who are smart, eager and easy to train. New York’s School-to-Career program taps into this growing need. It’s expected to draw over 6,000 high school students eager to learn workplace skills with the help of mentors and visits to participating companies. The program segues into two-year college degrees tailored to companies' needs.
Even those pursuing a BS degree in engineering are handicapped by the escalating pace of technology. By the time they graduate, technology will have leapfrogged ahead of what he or she really needs to know to hit the ground running. So in some cases, it could be argued that the best route for today’s young engineers eager to land that first job would be to get an AS degree, some key certifications and OJT (via job shadowing or internship). Lesley Mitler, president at Priority Candidates, a career coaching service for graduates to land their first job recently observed that technology is disruptive to jobs and job creation. Students pursuing a specific job or career should concentrate on the learning skills they can adapt to the job.
To see which fields are projected to grow the most, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Overview of the 2010–20 Projections. Where can you find the best (and most) entry-level jobs? Check out Internmatch’s list.
Ready to land your first job, but lack a four-year degree? Get your AS/AA degree, some key credentials and apply for an internship (hopefully paid).
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