Confidence in Education’s Promise: Perspectives on Access and Barriers to Good Jobs

Released Nov. 12, 2020

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Seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans feel stuck at work and unconvinced a good job or opportunities to advance are within their reach. They see barriers in a system for hiring and advancing at work that doesn’t feel fair, and insufficient support from employers — concerns they put on par with education and skill gaps. While most Americans continue to believe that education would provide some kind of advantage, some remain skeptical of its value, particularly Americans without college degrees. To fulfill the promise of education as a worthwhile investment on the road to a good job, Americans say work-based learning opportunities and additional support to help them succeed would provide the biggest boosts to confidence in the value of education.

The nationally representative Public Viewpoint survey, with more than 21,000 responses collected between March 25 and Oct. 29, is intended to provide insights to the education and training providers, policymakers, employers, and individual Americans who are navigating the COVID-19 crisis.

Half of Americans don’t believe a good job is within their reach, or that they can advance in their careers.

1 in 5 college students say COVID-19 has made their opportunities for career exploration “much worse.”

One in 4 Americans without a college degree say more education and training would make no difference in their ability to get a good job or advance in their career.

Interest in work-based and online training programs has increased substantially throughout the pandemic.