Building an education-to-employment system centered on adult learners
As the future of work continues to evolve, more adults will face career transitions that demand the acquisition and demonstration of new skills, creating cycles of learning and earning throughout life. To enable these transitions and to better support workers, we need to create a new learning ecosystem.
NAVIGABLE. People need a bird’s-eye view of the current and future job market, including all of the career pathways open to them based on their interests, skills, past training, and experiences. Navigation will give adults better information to guide them through complex systems, and better assessments to help them make sense of their skills and experience and figure out how to translate and transfer their capabilities into better jobs.
SUPPORTIVE. To stay focused on their education and career goals, learners need comprehensive wraparound supports, be they person-to-person or tech enabled, to help them overcome hurdles and manage multiple commitments and competing priorities. Better support services will foster the success of all working learners, from the beginning of their explorations all the way through their new working lives and subsequent career transitions.
TARGETED. Learners need access to targeted education tailored to their needs: the right skills, the right pathways, at the right time. They also need to know that the education they choose will be worth the investment—and clearly signal value to a prospective employer. More precise and relevant learning experiences must not only provide the knowledge but also the human and technical skills, professional networks, and hands-on practice that equip learners to be ready to work.
INTEGRATED. Working learners need the time, the funding, the confidence, and the resources to juggle education and training on top of their existing responsibilities. Integrated earning and learning will reduce education friction and make advancement achievable by offering better funding options, new opportunities to incorporate learning and work, and, ideally, more portable benefits.
TRANSPARENT. The hiring process must be unbiased, open, and fair, enabling job seekers to prove their competence and skills. When skills become the primary currency of the job market, credential or degree requirements will no longer overlook qualified job seekers. Ultimately, transparent hiring will reduce credential bias and better connect companies to more diverse candidates who have proven they have what it takes for the work ahead.
For all people to thrive in the work of the future, they will need communities and stakeholders to mobilize differently and work together to design a new learning ecosystem, centered on the needs and experiences of working learners. A new learning ecosystem must pull together all five of these core principles to ensure that working learners’ time and resources are spent making measurable progress toward their next career goal.
With no end in sight for the rapid changes in work ahead, we cannot continue to innovate in silos or piece together fragmented resources or unscalable solutions that address only one aspect of the ecosystem.
A new learning ecosystem will also require a more robust data infrastructure to strengthen connections between learners, employers, learning providers, funders, and policymakers in any given community. An improved and more integrated data infrastructure will not only create a shared language, but it will also empower groups to move toward a common vision and integrate resources, solutions, and services to make each step along the working learner’s journey a seamless experience.
No matter how an individual moves through an ecosystem, the goal is the same—to help working learners discover a stronger sense of purpose and personal thriving through better or more meaningful work.
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Strada Institute advances our understanding of the changing nature of work, so that we can design and create the learning ecosystem of the future.
The list of benefits associated with earning a college degree is extensive and oft-repeated. It includes higher average lifetime earnings, employment security, greater self-esteem, and better health, among many others.
Amid all of this disruption, the number of U.S. workers leaving or changing their jobs sharply increased. Known variously as the Great Resignation, Reshuffle, or Realignment, the trend has been cast in the cultural imagination as a collective desire on the part of the American workforce for more rewarding or meaningful work.
Over the past 80 years, our nation has made great strides in improving access to college, and then ensuring that many more students could complete a college degree.
Spring 2022 enrollment numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse reveal a fifth straight semester of enrollment declines, with more than 1 million fewer students enrolled compared to spring 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
How Intermediaries Can Connect Education and Work in a Postpandemic World
How is COVID-19 affecting college students currently enrolled at American four-year institutions?