Skip to main content

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.

Updated 9/8/2022
Degree of Risk
In this report, you will learn about Gen Z and employer perceptions of education-to-career pathways and barriers to adoption—and how they’re changing.

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 The traditional message that college is the only path to a fulfilling career is outdated.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 what professional and educational paths 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 an important baseline of where we are today and name the barriers we must overcome to expand high-quality postsecondary options for all learners. Key findings include:

  • 81% of employers agree organizations should hire based on skills rather than degrees.
  • 58% of Gen Z students agree companies should hire more high school graduates who have pursued non-degree 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 to transition from education to career.  

To dive deeper, read the highlights from our recent SXSW EDU and ASU+GSV panel discussions on the study and watch the recorded sessions:

Have a question? Want to partner or suggest a resource?