Four of Five Virginia Job Openings Do Not Require a Bachelor’s Degree

workforce_surveyThis post is excerpted from the Executive Summary of the “Virginia Job Vacancy Survey” prepared for the Virginia Employment Commission by the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Virginia Commonwealth University.Key Findings — Statewide

Employers project a 4.2% overall job vacancy rate in 2016, 61% due to separations and 39% due to new positions. Extrapolated to the entire QCEW establishment population from which the survey sample was drawn, the number of projected job vacancies in 2016 is estimated to be 130,827.

Over 60% of the positions, an estimated 78,785 jobs, will be full-time, while 32% (41,803 jobs) will be part-time (8% are unknown). Eighty-three percent (108,405) of the positions will be permanent and 16% (21,209) will be seasonal.

Employers expect it to be extremely difficult to fill over 21% of the vacancies and moderately difficult to fill an additional 39% of the vacancies. This perception permeates all industry sectors, employer sizes and regions, for the most part. However, employers were not asked to state why they have these expectations. Thinking that perhaps perceived difficulty in filling vacancies would be correlated with formal education or training requirements, we cross-tabulated these variables. However, we found no strong correlation between perceived difficult in filling positions and formal education, training or skills required.

Asked to rate the attributes they seek in new hires, employers ranked them in the following order: Professionalism, Communication Skills, Basic Academic Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Critical Thinking Skills, and Technology Use.

Extensive formal education does not appear to be required for the majority of job openings. Almost two-thirds of all openings (63%) require a high school diploma or GED, whereas about 12% require an associate degree or some college with no degree, and 18% require a bachelor’s degree or higher. About one-third of the projected vacancies requires licensing or other industry-recognized credential.

About half (46%) of all projected openings require on-the-job training of one month or less and about 31% require training of 12 months or less. Over 42% of the projected openings require no prior experience and almost 53% require less than five years’ experience.

For full-time positions, employers project, on average, an annual starting salary of $39,385. For part-time positions, employers expect to pay an average hourly starting wage of $11.98.

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7 responses to “Four of Five Virginia Job Openings Do Not Require a Bachelor’s Degree”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    good post but it doesn’t quite get to articulating what a “high school diploma” needs to be in the 21st century economy – it’s NOT what it was in the 20th century economy. It’s MORE. It has to have value-added skills and education in addition to the base K-12 diploma. It’s MORE than what many used to think was “enough” for a manufacturing job.

  2. I’m skeptical of data such as this. Who knows whether jobs for which a bachelor’s degree is not “required” are in fact unobtainable without it?

  3. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Not quite sure why something this obvious needs to be studied again, but apparently this is news to many, many people. The middle skills jobs involved require a high school diploma that, as Larry notes, includes some real academic meat (reading and writing skills, math, science) and usually then training or certification or both beyond that point. Look around a hospital, factory or even government office and you will see jobs everywhere with decent to excellent pay that do not require a college degree or even an associate’s degree. A skilled electrician, machinist, welder, medical lab technician, electrical lineman, repair technician etc. will find work and will be highly valued. But note that the list of skills employers want include the soft skills – professionalism, communications and interpersonal skills. Translation, show up and do your job, play well with others…..

    A college education has great intrinsic value but is not required to make a great living, and if you come out deeply in debt might stand in the way of economic stability.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” Extensive formal education”… drop the formal and add “Technical”.

    re: ” soft skills” as SteveH says – got to be articulate, tuned into the 21st century – and willing and able to pay well with others on understanding problems and solving them – not to their own satisfaction but to the satisfaction of the folks who are paying them for their product and service.

    you show up ON TIME – and READY – to deal with the issues on the floor – you don’t get your coffee and sit down to relax….until someone rattles your cage.

    our work ethic in this country – needs a serious make-over.

  5. Have heard that many times: “90% of personal success is simply showing up on time, dressed like you care, ready to play [to do your job].” The strong implication is that only 10% of success is attributable to how you do your job. Yet today we teach the opposite — work from office or telecommute from home, casual dress is fine, any hours or time of day, it’s only what you produce that should matter. Have we pushed this so hard only because it’s consistent with “judge me for what I do, not who I am” in an anti-discrimination sense? I’m OK with telecommuting for senior folks, by the way, but leery of allowing work-from-home privileges to an entry-level job, and I guess it’s not that the job can’t be done from home but that you don’t see that work ethic behind the performance. Does work ethic matter any longer?

  6. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Pretty darn hard for the jobs I described (electrician, machinist, medical technician) to work from home and the soft skills I describe ARE what I consider work ethic. If someone told you that it only took 10 percent productivity/skill if you had the soft skills down, you were misled….but I do not disagree that many feel that way and do not find success.

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” soft skills I describe ARE what I consider work ethic”

    one and the same if the goal is to succeed at the job….
    and enjoy success at the work….

    some folks think you have to do what the “man” demands of you and that’s the benchmark – I say it’s more than that – it’s what YOU learn and get good at – that ends up being YOURS and what you OWN and can bring to future jobs you’d compete for… and perhaps jobs that you create yourself for others…

    some kids never aspire to anything more than “finding a job”…

    neither their parents not their teachers spur them to any more ambition – than that.

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