• Joseph Fuller

The Emerging Degree Reset: The Shift to Skills-Based Hiring



By: Joseph B. Fuller, Christina Langer, Julia Nitschke, Layla O'Kane, Matt Sigelman, and Bledi Taska


Employers are resetting degree requirements in a wide range of roles, dropping the requirement for a bachelor’s degree in many middle-skill and even some higher-skill roles. This reverses a trend toward degree inflation in job postings going back to the Great Recession. And while the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated this process, this reset began before the crisis and is likely to continue after it.


  • Some 46% of middle-skill and 31% of high-skill occupations experienced material degree resets between 2017 and 2019.

  • Only 27% of the changing occupations could be considered “cyclical resets,” or short-term responses to the pandemic. The majority (63%) appear to be “structural resets” that began before the pandemic, representing a measured and potentially permanent shift in hiring practices.

  • When employers drop degrees, they become more specific about skills in job postings, spelling out the soft skills that may have been assumed to come with a college education, such as writing, communication, and being detail-oriented.


This reset could have major implications for how employers find talent and open up opportunities for the two-thirds of Americans without a college education. Based on these trends, we project that an additional 1.4 million jobs could open to workers without college degrees over the next five years.



Read the full report from The Burning Glass Institute

The Emerging Degree Reset Report 2-2022
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