May 12, 2021
For generations of young Americans, the promise of opportunity has been rooted in a simple premise: work hard in high school, earn a diploma, and move on to college or into a job. In either case, most who completed high school could reasonably expect to support themselves and their families, and those who finished college could expect a secure foothold in the middle class. But over the last three decades, the link between American education and economic mobility has grown increasingly fragile.
For the nearly one-third of high school seniors who do not enroll in college right after high school, prospects for a quality job and career are increasingly limited. In today’s economy, a college degree is more important than ever to achieve financial security, but it is also less of a guarantee. Prospects are particularly dire for students of color, especially Black and Hispanic students, who complete college at lower rates than white peers. Even when they do, these graduates are unemployed at significantly higher rates today than in 2000.
Restoring the link between American education and economic mobility demands more high-quality postsecondary options that provide young people with the foundational skills, experiences, and credentials they need to thrive in a rapidly changing economy. Core to developing these new postsecondary options is the role of employers. There is a long history of innovation to engage employers in education and workforce, however, employers are rarely engaged directly in the actual delivery of programs. For too long employers have been consumers and customers of our talent systems, rather than co-invested producers and partners in preparing the workforce for the future.
You can download the complete paper here.