Employers value skills over college degrees, workers say

July 2, 2014: 7:13 AM ET
graduation scene
That degree may be less important to employers than your skill set.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Forget about your GPA or paying for that graduate degree. What employers really care about are the skills you bring to the table.

While the vast majority of employees believe their college education has helped them in their career, 72% said getting trained in a specific skill is more highly valued by their employer, according to a survey of more than 2,000 adults by job listing site Glassdoor.

"Employees with college degrees believe that their education helped get them through the door, but about half say it has no relevance to the work they're actually doing," said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor's career and workplace expert.

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The survey also revealed just how little attention employers pay to an applicant's college performance, with 80% of respondents saying they had never been asked about their grade point average during a job interview.

And over half said shelling out the extra cash for a graduate degree is no longer the key to landing a high-paying job.

That highlights how much more important learning new skills, both within the company or through continuing education, like certificate programs, online training or webinars, is today than it was 10 or 20 years ago, said Rueff.

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Employees recognize how critical such training and development is, with 63% saying that it's vital to their hopes of career advancement.

Even STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors often need to acquire communications, management and other skill sets that they may not learn in college.

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"They're feeling it's what employers are truly seeking to really help move business forward," said Rueff.

His advice for people seeking career advancement is to research how their industry is changing and try to identify the skills that will be needed in the future.

Related: Is a college degree still worth the cost?

Overall, employee confidence fell slightly during the quarter, with employee expectations for their company's business outlook down four percentage points compared with the first quarter. Only 37% reported that they expect to receive a raise in the next 12 months, down a steep 7 percentage points.

Meanwhile, 16% of employees said they were concerned about getting laid off -- just slightly higher than the first quarter.

Among those who are looking for work, 32% said they were confident they could find a job in the next six months, up slightly from 31% in the first quarter.

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