If you’re wondering why online learning is booming, take a look at the latest U.S. Department of Labor data showing heightened demand for skilled workers. Those with an undergraduate or advanced degree now represent about 40 percent of the nation’s workforce, while those with just a high school diploma have slipped in the last 25 years from more than a third to about a quarter of American workers.
The graph is a vivid illustration of the present condition of economic life in America. The nation has been fiercely transformed into a post-industrial society in which accelerating technology has cast off large numbers of factory laborers, but hasn’t created enough new jobs in the service sector or in information-based roles to fill the gap.
The trend lines for those with undergraduate and advanced degrees show a steady rise in prosperity, while the lines for those with no degree sink rapidly downward. Since 2012, workers with some college or higher education now make up the largest share of the U.S. civilian labor force.
The clear message for employees who stay in the workforce without a college degree is that their future options are limited. Eventually, they may find themselves out of work altogether. Today, about nine million Americans are unemployed, most of them unskilled.
To escape that harsh outcome, workers without a college degree who are looking to advance must take a stab at enrolling at their nearest college campus, or turn to one of the growing numbers of online degree programs. Logistically, it is often difficult or impossible for working adults to get to traditional campuses to pursue degrees, which make those online options so attractive. Seventy percent of online undergrads and 80 percent of online graduate students work full or part time. America’s thirst for a highly-skilled workforce is driving the expansion of digital learning. Recent data from the nation’s residential colleges show a decline in enrollment, while online is surging at its fastest pace in… (continue reading)