Press Release

National Survey Shows Employers Value Liberally Educated Graduates

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) released today a report on employer views of higher education, “How College Contributes to Workforce Success: Employer Views on What Matters Most.” The report presents findings from AAC&U’s seventh survey of executives and hiring managers, which was conducted in partnership with Hanover Research.

The survey found substantial support among employers for the outcomes and experiences of a liberal education and make clear that a liberally educated graduate is strongly positioned for success in the job market. New findings reveal the ways in which employers’ value certain mindsets and aptitudes, along with practical and applied skills. Findings also demonstrate how employers’ views vary by age and educational attainment. An emerging generational gap among employers may signal increasing confidence in higher education and even greater support for liberal education in the future. Differences among employers also indicated greater recognition of the value of civic skill-building and community engagement among younger and more highly educated employers.

“The evidence that a college degree is essential for economic mobility is irrefutable,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “These findings compel us to understand the type of college education that is most effective for translating a college credential into career success. At a time of great uncertainty, a liberal education is what will best equip students with the adaptability and fortitude to navigate the road ahead.”

National Survey of Business Executives and Hiring Managers: Key Findings

  • Employers have confidence in higher education and value a college degree.
  • A liberal education provides the knowledge and skills employers view as important for career success.
  • Personal aptitudes and mindsets also play an important role in career success.
  • Completion of active and applied learning experiences gives job applicants a clear advantage.
  • Both breadth and depth of learning are needed for long-term career success.
  • College graduates are becoming more effective at communicating their achievements to employers.
  • Employers see room for improvement in the preparation of college graduates for work.
  • Views of higher education and perceptions of recent graduates vary significantly by employer age and educational attainment.
  • Younger employers (under 40) place a significantly higher value on civic-related learning outcomes and experiences than older employers (50 and above) do.

Click here to read the full report.

About AAC&U

AAC&U is the leading national association dedicated to advancing the vitality and public standing of liberal education by making quality and equity the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education in service to democracy. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,200 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, faculty, and staff engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Through a broad range of activities, AAC&U reinforces the collective commitment to liberal education at the national, local, and global levels. Its high-quality programs, publications, research, meetings, institutes, public outreach efforts, and campus-based projects help individual institutions ensure that the quality of student learning is central to their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.