Being the in Information Technology industry, I have had a lot of people tell me that a Bachelors Degree does not matter. That if you have experience or a technical certificate you are good to go. I have even had people tell me that I was an idiot for spending years in college to get my BS in Information Systems and Technology. But the current state of the job market tells me something different. The IT industry is changing, and people who don’t have some type of college degree are starting to see the effects.
I have seen three companies do the following thing. They have pruned their IT staff by laying off the lower levels of the staff. They then re-open the jobs they laid people off from and in the process change the job description. The position when first posted, several years ago, did not require any type of college degree, it just required a tech certificate or experience. But when they post the new job, they have changed the posting to now require a college degree. This had made some people mad that I have talked to. But it makes business sense to me. Because of the job market for IT jobs right now, companies can upgrade their workforce. And what I mean by upgrade is they can lay-off people without college degrees, and then hire people who have college degrees for the same amount of money but with a higher degree of knowledge and experience. Basically, they are upgrading their IT workforces.
Now this may sound cold, but this is just one example of why a College degree is so important. When times get tough and the job market goes hard, having the degree goes a long way. I don’t think that the market will always be like this, and we will see a swing again, but those that have spent the time to get the degree are going to see less of an impact because of the job market. Those with college degrees are also going to be able to rebound because of a job loss quicker than those that don’t have the degree.
This is just my personal observations, and opinions. And I am a computer geek by hobby and trade, and not an economist. So take my opinion for what it is worth, it is just my opinion.
But, I do have some statistics that back up my claim. In the recent job report issued by the US Government, they ave a Table A-4, Employment status of the civilian population 25 years and over by educational attainment. This table shows the unemployment rate for those over 25 based on the level of education they have. Non-High School graduates are seeing a 17.6% unemployment rate. High School graduates with no college are now experiencing a 10.6% unemployment rate, which is close to the national average. Those who have some college or a two year degree are only seeing a 8.5% unemployment rate. Finally, those who have a Bachelors or higher college degree are only seeing a 4.1% unemployments rate. You can view the history over the last few months and see that the rates remain about the same. The entire report can be found here: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm.
I am still convinced that IT is the industry to be in. if you look at unemployment rates by Industry, the Professional and Related Occupations are only seeing a 4.9% unemployment rate, where the construction industry is now seeing a 25.9% unemployment rate. [Source]