Adult learners without college degrees are apprehensive about the cost of higher education and the quality of online courses, but they expressed a desire to return to school, according to a nationwide survey from Champlain College Online released today.
Respondents said they prefer traditional face-to-face learning over online courses, but acknowledged that online education can be effective if administered using the industry’s best practices.
Adult learners who responded to the survey also said they believe that more college education can unlock new career opportunities, but most felt that going back to school was not financially feasible.
There are about 6 million open jobs in the United States, according to U.S. Department of Labor, and many businesses say they are ready to hire. Yet employers also report difficulty finding workers with the right skill sets. For instance, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, 45% of small businesses, in the first-quarter of 2017, said they could not find qualified people to fill job openings. Ensuring there are adequate training opportunities to help people secure these hard-to-fill positions is good for businesses, the economy and the unemployed looking for work.
However, closing the skills gap may only possible if employers, colleges and policymakers work in concert. A push to go back to school might be part of the solution but, according to the survey, that’s not an affordable option for most.
Moreover, a deeper look at the results hints that money is not the only issue. The survey also indicates that adults may have a diverse set of issues that policymakers are not talking about. To name two: Workers are unsure about the quality of available education options and unclear about how retraining will advance their careers. Well-designed partnerships that illustrate clear educational pathways will be pivotal to persuading workers to return to school.