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Nondegree Pathways: A DC Insider’s Perspective

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February 21, 2024

At a glance

A report by JFF and ASA reveals what federal policy influencers think about education-to-career pathways that don’t involve college degrees and recommends policies that would expand postsecondary opportunities for young people.

Practices & Centers Topics

Support for education-to-career pathways that don’t include four-year college degrees is growing, and the landscape of innovative training and education programs is expanding and diversifying. But these opportunities won’t gain traction if federal policymakers don’t provide adequate funding for them and craft policies that allow them to scale.

A new report from Jobs for the Future and American Student Assistance titled “Non-Degree Pathways: A DC Insider’s Perspective” reveals strong support for increasing the options available to young people in the postsecondary education and training ecosystem, and it recommends policies that would enable new and innovative programs to thrive and scale.

The report is based on a June 2022 Morning Consult survey of 156 “DC insiders”—defined as adults who subscribe to Morning Consult’s Washington Newsletter, have a Washington, DC, area zip code, are employed, and say they follow the news closely and have an average or above-average knowledge of politics and public policy. Of those polled, 45% said they were Democrats and 30% said they were Republicans.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:

There’s bipartisan support for expanding pathways that don’t include college: 93% of the respondents said that they somewhat or strongly agree that nondegree pathways can diversify options for students, and 89% said they somewhat or strongly agree that nondegree pathways provide relevant skills to meet employer needs.

People want policymakers to take action: 89% of the respondents said they believe legislative support for the expansion of nondegree postsecondary education pathways should increase in the next five years, and 78% said they somewhat or strongly agree that federal funding for nondegree education pathways should increase.

There’s widespread support for skills-first hiring: 81% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats said they strongly or somewhat agree that employers should hire based on skills rather than degrees.

To ensure that all U.S. workers and learners have equitable access to quality jobs and opportunities to achieve economic advancement and financial stability, policymakers must craft and adopt legislative and regulatory measures that champion postsecondary pathways as diverse as the people who make up this country’s workforce. The report offers policy recommendations and highlights opportunities to achieve that goal.

Download the report to get the full findings and recommendations.

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