April 6, 2021
Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) released today a report on employer views of higher education, “How College Contributes to Workforce Success: Employer Views on What Matters Most.” The report presents findings from AAC&U’s seventh survey of executives and hiring managers, which was conducted in partnership with Hanover Research.
The survey found substantial support among employers for the outcomes and experiences of a liberal education and make clear that a liberally educated graduate is strongly positioned for success in the job market. New findings reveal the ways in which employers’ value certain mindsets and aptitudes, along with practical and applied skills. Findings also demonstrate how employers’ views vary by age and educational attainment. An emerging generational gap among employers may signal increasing confidence in higher education and even greater support for liberal education in the future. Differences among employers also indicated greater recognition of the value of civic skill-building and community engagement among younger and more highly educated employers.
“The evidence that a college degree is essential for economic mobility is irrefutable,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “These findings compel us to understand the type of college education that is most effective for translating a college credential into career success. At a time of great uncertainty, a liberal education is what will best equip students with the adaptability and fortitude to navigate the road ahead.”
National Survey of Business Executives and Hiring Managers: Key Findings
- Employers have confidence in higher education and value a college degree.
- A liberal education provides the knowledge and skills employers view as important for career success.
- Personal aptitudes and mindsets also play an important role in career success.
- Completion of active and applied learning experiences gives job applicants a clear advantage.
- Both breadth and depth of learning are needed for long-term career success.
- College graduates are becoming more effective at communicating their achievements to employers.
- Employers see room for improvement in the preparation of college graduates for work.
- Views of higher education and perceptions of recent graduates vary significantly by employer age and educational attainment.
- Younger employers (under 40) place a significantly higher value on civic-related learning outcomes and experiences than older employers (50 and above) do.