College professor teaching students in a classroom

A new report finds that higher education can significantly improve young adults’ odds of securing a good job before age 30.

The report, from the Center for American Progress, analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data on employment and educational attainment for 25-29 year olds. It concluded that completing at least a bachelor’s degree more than doubles a young person’s chances of earning a “middle-income job”—one that provides an income between $35,000 to $80,000 per year for a four-person household.

For example, 64% of college graduates ages 25-29 held middle-income jobs, compared to just 29% of those with only a high school diploma. Similarly, middle-income job rates were 55% for associate degree holders versus 31% for high school graduates.

“Higher education plays a critical role in creating ladders of opportunity and more equitable access to well-paying jobs for young Americans,” authors wrote. They argued making higher education more affordable and accessible can strengthen the economy by expanding the talent pipeline.

However, the report also noted limits of the educational-employment link. Not all degrees or fields of study reliably lead to good jobs, and factors like region, race, disability status, and socioeconomic background also impact job prospects. Discrimination remains an obstacle for equitable jobs, as do certain structural issues like lack of paid work experience opportunities for students.

Results highlight the importance of promoting degree programs focused on high-demand skills, expanding career education and vocational options, and implementing inclusive practices that level the playing field for vulnerable groups. They also point to the need for policymakers and institutions to recognize and remedy systemic disadvantages creating barriers between people’s talents and opportunities to contribute and advance.

Overall, the report demonstrates how postsecondary education can empower more adults to build prosperous careers and support a thriving middle class. But it also shows the work still required to ensure the promised benefits of higher education and career success extend to individuals of all backgrounds. With comprehensive reforms, higher education could realize its potential to open doors of opportunity for all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *