With record numbers of college graduates underemployed in jobs that don’t actually require degrees, economists are joking that even aspiring janitors may soon have to get master’s degrees to compete for jobs.
A study released Monday by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity found that 37 percent of employed graduates didn’t need to attend college at all to successfully perform their current jobs.
The study was co-authored by Dr. Richard Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University and director of CCAP; Jonathan Robe, a CCAP researcher; and Christopher Denhart, an economics student at the university.
“Just as a bachelor’s degree gives current applicants for bartender jobs an edge over those with just a high-school diploma, so a master’s degree holder will have an advantage over those with a mere bachelor’s degree,” the authors write in the study.
If trends continue, graduates will become more educated in order to compete for jobs that should belong to less-educated workers, they predict.
“We jokingly predict that colleges will offer a master’s degree in Janitorial Studies within a decade or two, and anyone seeking employment as a janitor will discover no one will hire unless proof of possession of such a degree is presented,” they write.
For many workers, a degree isn’t adding anything to their necessary skill set beyond a credential, said Robe.
“If the new normal for janitors becomes possession of some sort of higher education credential, the only way to advance yourself is to continue to pursue more education, and the problem there is the education doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your actual skill set,” said Robe, in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Robe blamed government spending — such as federal student loan subsidies — for exacerbating the underemployment problem.
“Particularly recently, there have been a lot of government programs which are specifically targeted at increasing government spending on education, and increasing college attainment as a result of that spending, and what we’re saying is maybe we should question that and say, ‘to what end?’” said Robe. “If we were to, as President Obama wants to do, increase the number of Americans with college degrees, but there aren’t the jobs for them, are we actually making things worse off?”
President Obama has repeatedly pledged to make the U.S. the most college-educated country in the world by the end of the decade.
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