College Education and Degrees More Important As Economy Slows Say Job Seekers and Employers

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Advanced education and a campus or online degree is no longer a requirement only for career-track employees. Increasingly it is a necessity just to get a job. New research shows that employers across fields as diverse as criminal justice, business, retail, hospitality, accounting education and nursing are insisting that applicants have more than a high school education.

How likely is it that you will consider part-time college while continuing to work?

According to a recent morefocus survey, over 76% of those currently seeking work believe that they need a higher level of education to succeed in their job search. In the group that currently have no university or community college credits, 92% reported that they considered their level of education to be their major disadvantage. This contrasted with 84% of those with three or four years of college who felt that they were losing out to competitive applicants with a master's degree.

The short-form online education survey was conducted over a six week period spanning the peak end-of-semester job hunting season. As part of the morefocus group's on-going health and lifestyle research initiative that studies the changing attitudes of US consumers, the sample was targeted at visitors to a broad network of websites focused on healthcare, leisure, education and work.

"According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average unemployment rate has risen 22% from a low of 4.5% in May 2007 to 5.5% in May this year," said Dr. Regan Carey, the morefocus' SVP who leads the research group. He continued, "A state-by-state analysis shows that the more populous states are experiencing the fastest rate of unemployment growth, with California leading the field, having gone from 4.9% to 6.8% in the past year, an increase of almost 40%. With a growth rate this steep, there is always increased pressure on those in work from better qualified, and often cheaper, job-seekers."

As to the education intentions of those respondents currently in work, 42.2% of the sample answered 'likely' or 'definitely' to the question, "How likely is it that you will consider part-time college while continuing to work?". Of this group, the majority, 73.1% expressed a preference for an online degree course, with 15.8% considering a campus-based program and the balance not decided. Of those seeking work, a significant minority cited cost as the primary barrier, with the majority of this group expressing an intention to advance their education once they were employed.

On this topic, Dr. Carey noted, "In my previous experience as a university professor teaching graduate students, the sacrifices that our students would make to improve their education was a frequent topic of conversation among the faculty. For the truly dedicated student, cost was rarely an issue, with most confident that the increase in salary over their working life would make the investment in gaining an advanced degree almost irrelevant."

A particularly striking result from the survey was the attitude to the type of university. For the majority of respondents, the relevance of the offered course and convenience were cited as more important than the name of the college itself. This attitude, together with data on the other key metrics will form the body of a research document due for publication in the Fall after the follow-up survey to be fielded at the start of the next semester.    

The research was carried out by morefocus for EDU Decisions.com. Full results from the survey will be available from Education and Employment Survey, together with an opportunity to contribute to the follow-up research project.

In addition, there are two preliminary short-form educational surveys on-going, one in Criminal Justice Education and the other Business Degrees and Education. Panels will be built from respondents to these preliminary questionnaires for the detailed research project due to run in the Fall.

About morefocus group inc.
San Diego- and London-based morefocus group inc., carries out independent research, builds and maintains high-traffic content networks across multiple verticals. The Company owns and controls a leading independent healthcare and lifestyle network controlled by a suite of proprietary publishing, ad-serving, analytics and behavioral monitoring applications. The publications and software applications are applied to build engaged traffic, recruit, sample and manage consumer panels, and build marketing ROI. morefocus group inc.

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