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High school diploma not enough? More companies want college grads

Positions that used to require just a high school degree are increasingly being filled by college graduates, according to a new survey. A study by found that some 27 percent of employers have raised their educational requirements in the past five years, largely because they reported getting a better return on investment from their college educated employees, when compared to workers with just high school diplomas.

More than two thousand hiring managers participated in the survey. Among those who had changed their education requirements, 56 percent said they saw higher quality work from college grads. Forty-one percent reported better communication. Nineteen percent said they actually saw more revenue coming in as a result of hiring college educated workers.

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The rise in educational requirements extended beyond just associate and bachelor's degrees. Some employers said that in positions where they used to hire candidates with bachelor's degrees, they are now primarily hiring people who hold a Master's degree.

In the interest of increasing the education levels of their staff, some companies are investing in their current employees by offering to send them back to school. A third of the managers surveyed said they have sent workers to school for higher degrees, and most -- 81 percent -- will pick up at least part of the cost.

"The trend toward higher-educated labor is already paying off for companies. We see that both in our surveys and data analytics research," Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, said in a press release.

In research conducted for a book he authored, Ferguson and co-author Lorin Hitt found that companies could actually put a number on how valuable college educated workers were, compared to their high school educated colleagues. According to the research, a company that increased its hiring of college grads for customer service jobs by 10 percent, could see, on average, an added value of $26,000 per employee. That number jumps to $63,000 in added value when hiring for management ranks.

The survey found that the higher education trend did not extend across all sectors. When looking at information technology (IT) jobs, for example, worker experience and skills often trumped education level.

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