Express Employment Professionals Survey: 87% of U.S. Workers Agree Education Revolution is Needed to Prepare Students for Workforce

Staff Report

Friday, May 29th, 2020

Nearly 9 in 10 employees (87%) say a whole new approach to education, skills training and learning, or an Education Revolution, is needed to better prepare people for the workforce.

This is according to a newly released survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.

Regardless of generation, majorities agree that what is taught in school does not always translate to career success. More than half of U.S. employees (54%) say schools are not doing a good job of preparing the next generation of workers for what their needs are after school, and 4 in 5 (80%) say the education system has failed to evolve to the needs of the workforce.

The national survey of 1,206 U.S. employees ages 18 and older was conducted online by The Harris Poll between Dec. 5 and Dec. 30, 2019.

Work Experience Programs Lacking
Eighty-five percent of workers believe degrees should require on-the-job experience, not just coursework, yet close to half, 45%, say they did not participate in any work experience programs (e.g., internships, shadowing, apprenticeships, co-op placements) while in school.

Few Use Education Daily at Work
Sixty-seven percent of American workers say they are employed in the same field/profession in which they received their degrees or certifications, but more than 3 in 4 (77%) agree that they never learned the majority of their day-to-day job duties in school. Consequently, more than 9 in 10 (92%) agree there needs to be more of a balance in education to match actual career options.

Advanced Degrees Helpful, but Not Essential
Although the majority of U.S. workers, 83%, say their education has been useful to their career, only 18% say it has been absolutely essential. Still, 7 in 10 (70%) appear to equate a degree with success as they say getting any degree is better than no degree at all.

Who Should Pay for College?
When considering who should pay for college, there is no clear consensus.

Government: (Gen Z, 54%; millennials, 32%; Gen X, 23%; boomers/seniors, 14%)

The student: (Gen Z, 26%; millennials, 33%; Gen X, 43%; boomers/seniors, 52%)

Continual Learning is Essential
Nearly 4 in 5 (79%) agree anyone who doesn't continue to upskill in their career will be left behind in the workforce, but only 33% of U.S. employees have returned to school after entering the workforce.

Seventy-three percent feel prepared for jobs of the future, but when asked about specific skills, only half or less are knowledgeable in these areas.

"The jobs of tomorrow won't wait for workers to take their time to learn the necessary skills," said Bill Stoller, CEO of Express. "The sooner we align what is taught in school and upskilling at companies with the demands of the workforce, the easier it will be to create large talent pools of workers necessary for a stable and successful economy."