30 Million Workers May Have the Skills, but Not the Degrees, to Move to Jobs That Pay 70 Percent More

(p. B1) Over the last two decades, workers without four-year college degrees have lost ground in the occupations that used to be ladders to middle-class lives for them and their families.

While the trend has been well known, putting a number on the lost steppingstone jobs has been elusive. A new study, published on Friday, estimates that such workers have been displaced from 7.4 million jobs since 2000.

The research points to the persistent challenge for the nearly two-thirds of American workers who do not have a four-year college degree, even as some employers have dropped the requirement in recent years.

“These workers have been displaced from millions of the precise jobs that offer them upward mobility,” said Papia Debroy, head of research for Opportunity@Work, the nonprofit that published the study. “It represents a stunning loss for workers and their families.”

. . .

(p. B2) A previous study by Opportunity@Work, with academic researchers, dissected skills in different occupations and found that up to 30 million workers had the skills to realistically move to new jobs that paid on average 70 percent more than their current ones.

Some major companies have started to adjust their hiring requirements. Rework America Business Network, an initiative of the Markle Foundation, has pledged to adopt skills-based hiring for many jobs. Companies in the group include Aon, Boeing, McKinsey, Microsoft and Walmart.

. . .

“The country as a whole will benefit from not stranding human capital,” said Erica Groshen, an economist at Cornell University and a former head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For the full story, see:

Steve Lohr. “Requirement For Degrees Curbs Hiring.” The New York Times (Monday, January 17, 2022): B1-B2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Jan. 14, 2022, and has the title “Millions Have Lost a Step Into the Middle Class, Researchers Say.”)

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