Having a college degree may not be a major factor in obtaining a job anymore, as specialized education has become widely popular in what employers are looking for future employees.

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2015, only 33% of Americans actually have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Researchers Jaison Abel and Richard Dietz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York calculated off of data from the 2010 census and found that out of that 33%, only 27% of college graduates even have jobs in fields relating to their degrees.

Gregg Bishop, the commissioner for NYC Department of Small Business Services, said that the department recently spoke with technology based companies and for many hiring employers, having a degree is not at the top of their list of job qualifications. The idea of needing to have a college degree seems to come from what Bishop called a disconnect between management and their human resources department whose typically asks if you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. “Clearly there is a disconnect between what the managers are looking for versus what their HR department is screening for,” said Bishop.

Elizabeth Lusskin, president of Long Island City Partnership, which aims to improve economic development, said that in addition to not looking for employees with college degrees, companies are actually training people and even helping them earn certificates and degrees while on the job. “Jobs that don’t require a degree can still be a pathway to a degree,” she said.

In fact, the Department of Small Business Services continually works with companies by reaching out to see what they are looking for in future employees. “We are actually creating new training programs to ensure that the workforce that we are developing has those skills sets,” said Bishop “We want to make sure that the intelligence that we are getting from the industry is getting to the CBO’s [Community Based Organizations] and also to our academic institutions.”

Philip Krim, co-founder and chief executive officer of Casper, an e-commerce company that sells mattresses and other bedding materials online, said his company looks for people who have taken part in some of these alternative forms of education offered by different companies such as General Assembly. “I think you are seeing a lot of companies emerge in the tech ecosystem that are thinking about education, especially specialized education, in a different way,” said Krim. “That is taking different paths to help people, whether or not they went to college, think about kind of later in their careers, ways to learn new skills and develop.”

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