Half of Americans Don’t Believe a Good Job is Within Their Reach; Those Without College Degrees Are More Skeptical Education Will Lead to a Good Job

Americans cited an unfair system for hiring and advancement, a lack of employer support for education or training, and insufficient skills or credentials as the top barriers to good jobs

INDIANAPOLIS —  Strada Education Network, a social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging pathways between education and employment, has released a new analysis of its biweekly, nationally representative survey tracking the impact of the global pandemic on Americans’ lives, work, and education.

This week’s analysis finds that 52 percent of Americans say it is either difficult for them to get a good job or their opportunities to advance at work are limited. Many Americans feel powerless to change that situation, with 46 percent saying the hiring and advancement system isn’t fair. Similar shares of Americans cited a lack of employer support for training or insufficient skills and credentials as the major impediment to advancement.

And while the majority of Americans believe additional education would give them some advantage in the labor market, those without college degrees were less likely to say so. A quarter of Americans without a college degree said more education and training would make no difference in their ability to get a good job or advance in their career, compared to only 16 percent of Americans with an associate’s degree or higher.

“As we strive toward an equitable economic recovery, Americans’ skepticism about their ability to advance professionally is deeply concerning,” said Dr. Dave Clayton, Senior Vice President at Strada’s Center for Education Consumer Insights. “This speaks to the broad need for change to better illuminate pathways and strengthen connections between education and work. People need a clearer understanding of how education can lead to a good job for them.”

Americans without college degrees say stronger connections between work and education programs, more support, and help navigating education and career options would increase their confidence in the value of education. And among Americans considering education in the next six months, 44 percent prefer work-based learning, nontraditional online training programs, or employer training over college programs. That’s up substantially from earlier in the pandemic, with only 1 in 3 Americans expressing a preference for work-based options in May.

To date, over 21,000 Americans have been surveyed for the Public Viewpoint. The Public Viewpoint is produced by Strada Education Network’s Center for Education Consumer Insights, a research team that studies the experiences and perceptions of American adults in order to inform the development of a more consumer-centered learning ecosystem. Strada Center for Education Consumer Insights provides the nation’s largest education consumer database, which includes more than 350,000 completed surveys about the education and work experiences of American adults. View the full Public Viewpoint findings at: https://www.stradaeducation.org/publicviewpoint/.


About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a new kind of social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. Our approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy, mission-aligned investments and a network of affiliate organizations. Together, we work to better serve the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers. Learn more at stradaeducation.org.