Public Viewpoint: Reskilling and Changing Careers in the Midst of COVID-19

Released June 24, 2020

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As Americans consider how COVID-19 has disrupted their work, education, and daily lives, many are looking ahead to how education and training might shape their futures. One in three American workers say they would change careers if they lost their jobs, meaning many  would need to reskill. But who is most interested in changing fields? What fields will they look to move into? And what do they want their education or training to look like?

This week’s data also shows what is motivating the workers looking to change fields—and for about half, the decision isn’t about finances or career advancement.

This nationally representative survey, based on more than 11,000 responses collected between March 25 and June 11, is intended to provide insights to the education and training providers, policymakers, employers, and individual Americans who are navigating the COVID-19 crisis.

One out of three workers (35%) say they would change their field of work if they lost their job.

Workers’ motivations for wanting to change fields are split evenly between those wanting to earn more money or climb a career ladder and nonfinancial motivations such as more autonomy, better fit, or more meaningful work.

For workers interested in changing job fields, the fields they are most likely to transition into are business fields (18%), information technology (14%), or finance (9%).

While many workers who are looking to make a career transition need to reskill, less than half (44%) of Americans say they have access to the education and training they want.

Americans strongly prefer nondegree programs and skills training over degree programs.