Six million middle-skills jobs in the United States are at risk of “degree inflation”—the practice of requiring a college degree for jobs that were traditionally held by middle-skills workers who have more education than a high-school diploma, but less than a four-year college degree. Dismissed by Degrees: How degree inflation is undermining U.S. competitiveness and hurting America’s middle class, a new report from researchers at Accenture, Grads of Life, and Harvard Business School notes that the rising demand for a four-year college degree for jobs that previously did not require one, not only harms U.S. businesses, it closes off critical career pathways and excludes millions of middle-skilled Americans from securing gainful employment. This phenomenon particularly impacts Opportunity Youth – young adults between the ages of 16-24 years who are not working or in school – and further constrains their ability to enter and stay in the workforce.
In today’s changing labor market, employers across the country are having an increasingly difficult time filling their middle-skills roles. Degree inflation has put jobs that traditionally did not require a bachelor’s degree out of reach for the two-thirds of Americans without that credential. Forward-thinking companies have recognized that investing in talent pipelines that bring Opportunity Youth into their organizations is a smart business decision. Workforce Wins: The Case for Opportunity Youth Talent Pipelines dives deeply into the business benefits that employers who have invested in building Opportunity Youth talent pipelines have seen, including increased retention, more efficient recruiting and improved diversity and highlights the steps companies can take to develop their own Opportunity Youth talent pipelines.