Many young adults with degrees think workforce training, which they say is missing from their curriculums, is critical to a successful career

Workforce training, upskilling in demand among younger adults


Many young adults with degrees think workplace training, which they say is missing from their curriculums, is most important for a successful career

In the midst of the growing conversation about the ROI of a college degree, a report from Multiverse reveals that parental expectations push students to attend college, even though 50 percent of young adults believe a college degree isn’t worth the cost.

The report challenges the notion that only one education pathway–a degree–can lead to high-paying and high-growth careers.  Among other compelling data points, the survey revealed that while 48 percent of adults say they were expected to attend college, 76 percent would skip college if their dream job was attainable post-high school.

The report, Professional Apprenticeships: Defining a New Way to Train and Hire for Today’s Employers, surveyed adults at the start of their careers (ages 18-26) in order to establish a holistic understanding of America’s learning choices, workforce preparedness, perceived impact of a degree, and awareness of apprenticeships.

“While the majority of American adults still see a degree as necessary, they know it’s not sufficient to prepare them for a great career. Given rising costs and a growing conversation about the return on investment the average student experiences, it’s essential we update our assumptions about education to include a wider range of pathways for young people,” said Sophie Ruddock, VP and GM of Multiverse. “There needs to be alternative career paths that prepare people for work without the debt while meeting the ever evolving needs of employers. In a world where the status quo is a college education, our research shows that young adults are hungry for real world experience that will better equip them for thriving careers in today’s most in-demand skills.”

Young Adults Crave Real Workforce Training as Part of their Education

The survey found that college attendees are often left wanting when it comes to preparing for the workforce and wish to have more workforce experience and opportunities for applied learning as part of their college education. Sixty-six percent of degreed young adults believe that real workforce training is the most crucial element to preparing for a successful career. At the same time, this same group listed “having a clear idea of what a job is like,” “real workforce training” and “quality time with industry professionals” as the top three elements missing from a college education. And, nearly half of those with a degree (49 percent) say higher-ed disregards at least some of the key skills needed for today’s workforce.

Societal Expectations to Attend College

The report upholds that there is a widespread belief that post-high school success is determined by a college degree. Young adults revealed they are often influenced to attend college by parents and other family members, friends, teachers, and counselors. Nearly 8 in 10 students currently enrolled in either two- or four-year programs admit that their parents influenced their decision to attend college.

Moreover, people believe that college is the only pathway towards the most desirable industries. Three quarters of young adults considered college their top option after high school, and 63 percent of those with degrees went to college because they wanted to improve their ability to get a high-paying job post-graduation.

At the same time, 76 percent of those who did not enroll in college cite financial reasons; either wanting to earn a salary right after college or not being able to afford the cost of a degree. And one-third of those without a degree are unhappy with opportunities to work in their preferred field, calling for more alternative routes to train for today’s jobs.

Apprenticeships Provide an Alternative Pathway

Workforce training can include apprenticeships, whereby skills are learned and tested via immediate application in working scenarios. Professional apprenticeships are tuition-free and paid, and have the potential to create a true alternative to college training for the careers and roles most in demand in the US. In a survey of apprentices, 90 percent of apprentices are happy with their career choices, 81 percent are happy with their opportunities for progression and 73 percent rank their career prospects higher than their peers.

This press release originally appeared online.

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Laura Ascione

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