Guest Commentator: Malik Brown, Executive Director, Graduate! Philadelphia @GraduatePhilly

Why does it make good business sense to support employees who go back to school to finish their college degrees?

Education is a fundamental solution that can be used to address both business and community needs. Employers across different product and service offerings have expressed a business imperative to create a more expansive definition of talent and to invest in non-traditional talent pools.

The beginning of the 21st century marked the acceleration of what economists call the Third Industrial Revolution. Digital technology and automation will continue to disrupt the job market and reshape the next generation of work across industries and communities, large and small. According to research conducted by the Walmart Foundation and the McKinsey Global Institute, current technologies alone could automate 45 percent of the time spent on activities that people are paid to do today.

Increasingly, key stakeholders across sectors grapple with questions and decisions on how to best respond to skilled labor shortages and the need for workforce modernization, and how to best mitigate job displacement and economic hardship.

According to the Graduate! Network’s research and findings, there are 36 million individuals in the United States with some college credit but no degree. By 2020, 65% of all jobs will require college education. Moreover, our research suggests that increasing the number of adults with degrees has a generational multiplier effect.

Employees who go back to school are often untapped pockets of high potential talent. In many instances, these employees are diverse, front-line workers who have strong records of performance and a desire to contribute more broadly across the enterprise. Adult learners bring “life skills” to the table (e.g., ability to problem solve and navigate difficult situations) and a propensity to develop more advanced cognitive skills that are critical in today’s digital environment. It is not only good corporate citizenship to support employees who go back to school to finish their degrees but also good business sense with a proven value proposition and ROI.

If you are interested in engaging in this work and conversation, please join the Graduate! Network and Graduate! Philadelphia at our Annual Learning Exchange on September 9th and 10th.

Graduate! Philadelphia is a member of the Chamber’s Talent Action Team, a group of 140+ Chamber members focused on creating clear pathways for the alignment between individuals and employers to assure that we are training and engaging the region’s current and future leaders.