|Crowd hears results of the survey|
A study performed for the Roanoke Higher Education Center has revealed that 59 percent of the 377 local large businesses who responded have employees enrolled in college classes, an astonishing number. Many of those students are at the Higher Ed Center, among 2,100 students, about 80 percent of whom are in a degree or certificate program.
The study was conducted, says Higher Ed Center director Tom McKeon, "because we wanted to identify any gaps. There are implications for our current members [14 colleges and universities] to restructure or enhance their programming to meet the needs of adult students. This study is an opportunity to see where the gaps are so we can fill them ..."
The study reveals that the bachelor's degrees people are most interested have a heavy business emphasis (business, management, accounting) and that master's degrees also include business in the top three.
Perhaps the most surprising finding in the survey was that employers who plan to hire in the next two years are not looking for workers with degrees, except technical education certificates. Most, 65 percent, want people with high school or GED (43 percent) or technical (22 percent), but 19 percent said they would be satisfied with no education at all. Those wanting workers with degrees were five percent for junior college, 8.5 percent bachelor's and 1.4 percent advanced. That pretty well flies in the face of conventional wisdom. "What we're seeing," says McKeon, "is that companies want to hire the people, then invest in them" with further education.