Pursuing higher education during the pandemic is a smart move

The world is in a state of change. Those who seek higher education during the pandemic are preparing themselves to adapt to the change. They will be prepared to take on responsibilities and work that may be very different from what they currently do. Businesses that invest in their employees will find that those who seek higher education during the pandemic are the employees that will lead their companies forward.

The coronavirus has created havoc in our daily lives, schools and businesses. However, there is a positive outcome possible for those who seek higher education during the pandemic.

Near the start of the pandemic Stada Education Network surveyed American workers to find out how the pandemic had been disrupting their careers. They found that many workers were reevaluating their skills and education needs. About 30 percent of workers said that if they lost their jobs they would need more education to find a new one. However, these workers believed the education would be difficult to attain, and some questioned its value. Two-thirds of low-income workers felt they couldn’t access higher education or training and more than half weren’t sure they would see a return on their investment in their education.

In reality, there are many reasons for workers to seek higher education during the pandemic. And there are reasons businesses will benefit from supporting them.

The pandemic has made a college degree more valuable than ever say New York Fed economists Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz. This is because employment prospects are weaker for people with only a high school education, compared to those with a degree. The unemployment rate for high school graduates was 12.1 percent in June 2020, almost double the unemployment rate of 6.9 percent for college graduates. A year ago, the unemployment rates were closer, but the pandemic has caused changes in the labor market. The big difference in employment rates now is partly because people with degrees are more apt to have jobs that can be adapted to remote work.

Looking ahead to employment after the pandemic, people that have degrees will again be at an advantage. Many low-wage, high-contact jobs have been eliminated or reduced during the pandemic. Workers that do not have degrees hold many of these jobs. These workers can find security and financial advantage if they pursue higher education during the pandemic.

Workers who seek higher education during the pandemic will find a financial return on their investment. As well as greater employment security, they will find higher wages in their work. This will be especially important as jobs reopen after the pandemic. “Though the wages of all workers may stagnate or even decline during recessions, they tend to fall as much or more for those without a college degree,” say Abel and Deitz.

There are great benefits for companies that encourage their workers to take advantage of tuition benefits and pursue higher education during the pandemic. Market demands, product preferences and production methods are all changing. Businesses need employees that can deal with change. “As companies adapt to life under COVID-19, providing training to employees so they can improve their current performance in a new environment is essential,” says Carla Bevins assistance teaching professor of business communications at Edcor partner school Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business . “Once companies have a better idea of how they will move forward, reskilling becomes strongly relevant.”

When employees pursue higher education during the pandemic they will learn the skills necessary to work with new technology. They can learn analytical and problem skills that are necessary for problem solving as businesses change rapidly. They can learn to be innovative so businesses can adapt to new conditions. Employers that encourage workers to pursue higher education during the pandemic can develop and encourage a culture of lifelong learning that creates an agile, resilient business.

By Adrienne Way, Edcor Owner and CEO