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Degrees of Risk: What Gen Z and Employers Think About Education-to-Career Pathways… and How Those Views Are Changing

Presenting a landmark study on Gen Z and employer perceptions of education-to-career pathways.

February 23, 2024

At a Glance

This report offers insights about Gen Z and employer perceptions of education-to-career pathways and barriers to adoption—and how those perceptions are changing.

Practices & Centers Topics

College enrollment is on the decline, Gen Z is questioning the cost and value of higher education, and employers face an ongoing struggle to fill jobs with talented candidates. The traditional message that college is the only path to a fulfilling career is outdated. It’s time to examine what it really means to be employable—and reimagine the professional and educational paths that can lead to success.

In Degrees of Risk, American Student Assistance (ASA) and Jobs for the Future (JFF) use original research on Gen Z and employers to set a baseline of where we are today and identify the barriers we must overcome to expand high-quality postsecondary options for all learners.
Key findings include:

  • 81% of employers strongly or somewhat agree that organizations should hire people based on their skills rather than degrees they may have earned.
  • 58% of Gen Z students agree that companies should hire more high school graduates who have pursued nondegree pathways.

Gen Z and employers agree that it’s time to think beyond the college degree, but factors like risk aversion and lack of information stand in the way. Degrees of Risk sends a clear message: To meet the needs of today’s workforce, we need to transform how we prepare students for the transition from education to career.

To dive deeper, watch these recordings of sessions featuring presentations about the report’s findings at past ASU+GSV and SXSW conferences:

ASU+GSV 2022


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