A postsecondary degree is not the only pathway to prosperity. As automation and technological advances transform the economy, policymakers, employers, educators, and learners themselves increasingly recognize the potential of non-degree certificates and professional certifications to help meet the demand for new skills. Strada and Lumina have partnered to better understand the educational and work experiences of adults without degrees and how we might provide greater economic mobility for them and their families.
Perceive their education path as more valuable and are more likely to recommend it to others than are those with no credential.
Have higher full-time employment rates than their peers with no credential (85 percent versus 78 percent).
Have a median annual income of $45,000, versus $30,000 for those without a credential.
These findings indicated that certificates and certifications can serve as a beneficial stand-alone credential. However, there are important variations by occupation and gender that demand serious attention as we develop and deliver valuable education opportunities beyond high school.
Certificate/certification holders see increased job market value in their education. Among adults without a degree, 60 percent of those with a certificate or certification perceive their educational experience to be valuable to potential employers, compared to only 44 percent of those without a certificate or certification. This difference in perceived marketability holds across all demographic groups, including gender, age, race/ethnicity, and personal income level.
Non-degree adults who have a certificate or certification are also more inclined to recommend their education path to others. Two-thirds agree or strongly agree that they would recommend their education path to others like them, compared to only about half of those without a certificate or certification. In fact, certificate holders are more likely to recommend their path across all major demographic groups, including gender, age, race/ethnicity and income.
The perceived labor market value of certificates/certifications is well-founded. Among adults without a postsecondary degree, the full-time employment rate for certificate/certification holdes is 7 percentage points higher than for those without a certificate or certification. While men have higher employment rates than women overall, the employment boost from certificates/certifications holds for both men and women.
Among adults without a postsecondary degree, certificat/certification holders enjoy an income premium compared to those who do not hold a certificate of certification. This income advantage exists at the top and bottom of the income distribution as well.
The income premium employed by non-degree adults who hold a certificate or certification is considerably larger for men than it is for women. While overall men earn higher salaries than women among this non-degree population, on average the income premium for men with a certificate or certification is over twice as large as it is for women.
The income premium experience by non-degree adults who hold a certificate or certification varies across occupations. For some occupations the premium is as high as $25,000, but for other occupations there is little to no apparent economic advantage to having a certificate or certification.
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.
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials.
Higher education’s measurement of student success is in the midst of an evolution. For nearly five decades, success efforts focused on access, then two decades with completion as the horizon for success, and now the focus is extending to student outcomes beyond completion.
Applied connections between education and work are increasingly a part of undergraduate education in the United States.
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.
In the wake of historic pandemic-related enrollment declines, postsecondary institutions have responded by developing and expanding innovative approaches to engaging learners.
The baccalaureate degree remains the surest path to economic mobility, employment stability, and a host of associated social benefits.
Steep declines in undergraduate enrollment during 2020 and 2021 threaten to widen existing equity gaps in college completion and career opportunities.
Nondegree credentials have been growing rapidly for decades. During the COVID-19 economic crisis, interest in nondegree credentials and skills training options was especially high. Questions about their quality and value, however, remain.
The high school classes of 2020 and 2021 have endured massive disruption to their education.
The pandemic has led to a national crisis of widespread disruption to both work and education for millions of adults in the U.S., especially those from historically marginalized groups.
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.
Over the past 15 years, the number of student loan recipients has increased by 51 percent and the debt associated with those loans has more than doubled.
We asked alumni nationwide who had borrowed money to go to school if their loans were worth it. Strada Education Network and Gallup surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 6,000 student loan holders.
Our mission is to improve lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment.
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