Education Consumers Are Speaking; Policymakers, Educators, Employers Must ListenCarol D'Amico | Executive Vice President, Strada Education Network
To understand how American consumers value anything—from the gadgets they purchase to their Uber rides or restaurant experiences—we simply ask them.
So why not ask the consumers of education how they value their experiences after high school?
Strada Education Network, in partnership with the experts at Gallup, has done just that. They gathered responses from more than 340,000 American adults of every background and educational experience to create the nation’s largest dataset on education consumer insights. Their feedback is very clear: they most value education and training after high school that is directly related to their fulfilling career path.
Now it’s time to put this data to work; informing state policymakers, educators, and employers as they collaborate to build a skilled workforce, improve their economies, and enable millions of Americans to gain the skills they need to sustain meaningful careers in industries where they can earn enough to support themselves and their families.
Over the next 18 months, Strada will invest $2.3 million through the National Governors Association to help six states build data-driven approaches that connect residents to the education and skills they need to secure the jobs they seek. Along with an initial $100,000 and technical assistance, policymakers in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Wyoming will gain access to state-specific, proprietary data from the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey to craft evidence-based policy solutions to upskill thousands of adults in their states. This dataset of consumer feedback, broken down by cities and regions in each state, provides vital information for educators, employers and state policymakers about what types of education and workforce opportunities will produce the best results for their residents and improve the workforce and economic development in their states.
Based on Strada consumer research, consumers themselves are defining what makes a valuable post-high school education experience. In a word, it’s relevance; an experience that is relevant to their skills, experiences and attributes while staying relevant to their career path and aspirations.
Armed with the data and consumer insights into what’s working for people beyond high school, there are many things that state policymakers, educators, and employers can do to improve postsecondary education, skills training and workforce opportunity. Each group must collaborate with the others, and each has a crucial role to play:
State policymakers: Uniquely positioned and agile enough to quickly align their states’ educational offerings with rapidly changing workforce demands.
Employers: Can join with educators to design and deliver curriculum and skills training for incoming worker-learners, providing internship, apprenticeship, and mentorship support. They also have a great opportunity to empower existing workers, leveraging their years of on-the-job experience while providing new opportunities for skills training to help them remain competitive and engaged in their careers.
Educators: Must embrace and understand the data in their own states, and partner with employers to make the education they deliver affordable, accessible, flexible, and career relevant.
State-specific consumer insights data, an up-to-date workforce and economic development picture have great potential to inform and empower each of these stakeholder groups as they collaborate to build the new education-workforce ecosystem. We’re excited to partner with NGA and these innovative states to make real progress now and to learn what could help more states moving forward.
Millions of Americans seeking appropriate education and skills training to launch and progress in their careers are depending on this work. We cannot let them down.
Author Perspective: Analyst