The number of job openings in the United States now surpasses the number of people available and qualified to fill them. Through the Strada-Gallup Education Survey, we talk to Americans about their desire for more education and skills training and explore what motivates them to return to school.
46 percent of Americans believe they need additional education to advance in their careers.
Younger, non-white, and urban residents feel a greater need than their peers.
A majority (53 percent) of adults without degrees say they are likely or very likely to pursue more education in the next five years.
Adults without degrees are more likely to seek education and training from employers than from traditional education institutions.
Adults without degrees are more likely to say a guaranteed employment outcome would be the greatest motivator.
Adults with some college but no degree are no more likely than others without degrees to return to school.
“If they are going to meet people where they are, education solutions must embrace employers and work-centered pathways.”
Policymakers, employers and higher education leaders all champion the power of education to improve economic health and well-being. The workforce demand for skilled employees is greater than ever—with longstanding forecasts that 65% of job openings would require postsecondary education by 2020. And the 7 million job openings in the country now outstrip the number of unemployed Americans, in part because of a mismatch between the demands of available jobs and the skills in the pool of talent. More than half of employers say that job candidates’ lack of requisite skills is harming their companies’ productivity.
To address this skills gap, enormous resources are focused on engaging individuals to complete meaningful credentials and develop skills that will increase their value in the job market and fuel local and state economies. A dozen states have started free community college initiatives to encourage more residents to enroll, and another dozen are considering a similar move. Many of the initiatives are focused on recent high school graduates, but a significant number of states are looking to expand them to working adults. Tennessee, a leader in the free community college movement, has already done so. In an ambitious effort to reach more of the adult population, California is creating an entirely new online community college, which will offer competency-based and other programs that maximize flexibility for students. Still other states, such as Kentucky and Maryland, have focused on getting “near-completers”— residents with a significant number of college credits but no degree—back into college and to graduation.
But despite such significant effort at both the state and federal level to get more Americans to start and complete postsecondary credentials, too many policymakers and practitioners have paid too little attention to what actually motivates individuals to pursue additional education.
This Strada-Gallup Education Survey report focuses on the perceived need for additional education among Americans of all backgrounds, as well as how likely they are to pursue additional education and training and what would motivate them to do so. Perhaps not surprising, career outcomes lie at the heart of their decision-making.
Authors and Contributors
When it comes to education after high school, Americans know what they value and why. At Strada Education Network, we are listening to what they have to say and leveraging their insights about experiences and outcomes to forge more purposeful pathways between education and careers.
Gallup strategically partners with institutions to conduct custom research and implement best practices that create environments in which students and employees thrive.
Among students who have work-based learning experiences, those with paid internships stand out for their increased earning power, confidence in themselves, and recognition of the value of their education.
Two centuries after the first historically Black colleges and universities were founded, the 101 accredited HBCUs in operation today continue to deliver on their legacy of expanding educational opportunity for Black students that leads to successful and fulfilling lives.
As a field, higher education has experienced a continuing evolution in how to measure success. For nearly five decades success efforts were focused on access, followed by the past decade and a half pursuing completion, and the field now has a growing focus on the value of a degree and student outcomes beyond completion.
Strada’s prior research on undergraduate perceptions of the value of their education demonstrates that students value their education most when they receive support to connect their education and career interests.
The baccalaureate degree remains the surest path to economic mobility, employment stability, and a host of associated social benefits.
The declines in postsecondary education enrollment made headlines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but what does that mean for the students behind those statistics?
Nondegree credentials have been growing rapidly for decades. Questions about their quality and value, however, remain.
Recent high school graduates share why their education plans were disrupted, and what types of support could bring them back
From its onset in early 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended life across the world, leading to uncertainty around health, work, finances, education, and a host of other issues.
Will Pandemic-Disrupted Learners Return to School?
How individuals who attend and don’t graduate feel about education
How learners rate the value of their education pathways
The Benefits and Opportunities of Certificates and Certifications
What Adults Without Degrees Say About Pursuing Additional Education and Training
Relevance and the Value of Higher Education
When do Adults without Degrees Benefit from Earning Certificates and Certifications?
Employer survey on finding the best talent for the job
2018 Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey
State-by-State Demand for Education After High School
Strada and Gallup Examine Learners’ Top Motives for Choosing Their Postsecondary Path
2017 College Student Survey
Where Students Get Valued Advice on What to Study in College
US Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions