In his article, “Time is a barrier for workers with college benefits,” Open Campus journalist Paul Fain writes about the challenges workers face in taking advantage of employers offering college tuition reimbursement.
Fain points out that only 2 to 6% of employees who have access to tuition help from employers actually use it. It’s a lack of time that Fain cites as the reason so few users take advantage of these programs.
Another reason Fain points to comes from President Emeritus of the American Public University System Wally Boston. Boston says that poor experiences in college and/or high school might keep employees from wanting to go to college. Even so, newer workers often hold multiple jobs and simply can’t find the time. Fain quotes Boston, who says, “’It’s tough to complete a three-credit-hour college course if you’re working full-time, much less if you’re working 60 to 70 hours a week.’”
Fain devotes much of the article to the shift away from offering workers tuition for college to offering certifications instead. Certifications such as those the The American Dream Academy that are self-paced, last just six months, and require only a 5-to-10-hour commitment each week. That shift, Fain writes, is covered in a paper from the Education Design Lab that suggests the economy is shifting to a skills-based learning model.
He sites several research reports that support a shift from mainstream traditional education to skills- or certificate-based education as well as STEM-focused research showing a gap for underrepresented groups in STEM fields. One report he cites if YouScience’s Career Insights: Women, STEM, and the Talent Shortage report that demonstrates female students have much higher aptitudes for STEM careers than self-reported interest in them.
Read Fain’s full article on Open Campus.