Macro

Can Higher Ed Survive the Tight Labor Market?

Last week we looked into a day in the life of a Chief Data Officer, and noted that CDAOs seem to be commonly recruited straight out of academia. The week before that, it was the former academics that founded successful unicorns. This week we will shift our focus to understanding talent flows in and out of Higher Ed institutions.

Revelio Labs

2/15/22

Last week we looked into a day in the life of a Chief Data Officer, and noted that CDAOs seem to be commonly recruited straight out of academia. The week before that, it was the former academics that founded successful unicorns. This week we will shift our focus to understanding talent flows in and out of Higher Ed institutions.

Existing economic literature shows that, in the context of teaching careers, outside options matter greatly as higher quality teachers enter the workforce during recessions. Exploring this counter-cyclicality for administrative jobs in higher education, we find that outflows from Higher Ed are higher during economic booms. Moreover, there is a general upwards trend, suggesting it is getting harder to attract talent to work in positions at colleges and universities. Universities are also aware of this trend, as Ben Zweig, CEO, noted in his keynote address to the Treasury Institute, discussing the Future of Work in Higher Ed.

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By breaking down the industries that drive this trend, we can track the ratio of total outflows from Higher Ed into each industry to the total inflow from that industry into Higher Ed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, tech companies have the highest outflow to inflow ratios.

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So what’s driving this flow of talent from Higher Ed to other industries? Using the tech industry as a benchmarking example and tracking employee sentiment over time, we see that although work-life balance is keeping up with the positive sentiment ranking of tech companies, they are lagging in compensation and career opportunities.

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Interestingly, as we track the salary changes in 2021 across industries, we see that Higher Ed was indeed at the very bottom of the salary increases whereas some of the outflow industries saw larger salary increases.

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Key Takeaways:

  • The ratio of outflows from Higher Ed to inflows into Higher Ed for non-research employees have been increasing over time, with some cyclicality over business cycles.
  • Employee sentiments in Higher Ed are lagging in compensation and career opportunities compared to tech.
  • Higher Ed was at the bottom of 2021 salary increases among industries.

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