Report Examines Workforce Outcomes of Postsecondary Education

by Michelle Massie
May 2, 2014

Post-graduation workforce results, such as earnings levels and employment rates, matter to consumers.

That is the basis of a new report from the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success at the Center for Law and Social Policy, Inc. (CLASP) that focuses on the need for better information about post-graduation outcomes of postsecondary education and training.

The paper, Workforce Results Matter: The Critical Role of Employment Outcome Data in Improving Transparency of Postsecondary Education and Training, examines workforce results as it relates to employment-related outcomes, such as post-graduation employment rates and earnings levels. CLASP is a Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) partner. WDQC Director Rachel Zinn contributed to the report.

The authors contend that as college costs have skyrocketed in recent years and led to increased student debt, families and students have to be armed with better information to inform their choices about postsecondary education options.

According to the report, in an annual Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) survey at four-year institutions, first-year students consistently report that their prospects for employment and improved earnings are very important to them as they enter college. In the 2013 HERI survey of freshman students, three of the top five reasons students cited for attending college were related to anticipated earnings and employment results.

The report goes on to suggest the types of data and employment measures that would help meet the demand for information (e.g. employment outcomes should be presented for programs of study, not just at the institutional level) and describes examples of several states that have produced more consistent and comprehensive information about their labor market results. For example, California’s community college system recently created two online tools—Salary Surfer and a college wage tracker—that show in-state employment outcomes for graduates, based on data obtained from the state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records.
 
WDQC applauds efforts to improve data and metrics for workforce results as we feel workforce and education data systems need to do a more effective job of assessing employment outcomes for all participants and expand the use of labor market information.