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New survey highlights disconnect between high school and the real world

Is education preparing students to be future-ready? | #RethinkEd
Watch: "Is education preparing students to be future-ready? | #RethinkEd" | 10:20

If the purpose of high school is to prepare students for the real world, does it? A recent survey of students, parents, and employers finds that real world skills are more important than ever.

Updated 2021 survey

Employers are increasingly looking at credentials other than degrees when making hiring decisions, whereas most adults and parents still believe a college degree is the best predictor of success in life. Read the results >

The future of learning is no longer just over the horizon, said Aaron North, Kauffman’s Vice President of Education, during his opening remarks at Rethink Ed 2019. “We can see it, and we can meet that future on our own terms by investing in ourselves. But are we future-ready?”

That’s what Rethink Ed is about – it allows students, parents, educators, and the business community to come together to address how learning must shift to ensure that all students are prepared with the skills and abilities necessary to succeed. Recently, the Kauffman Foundation commissioned a survey of students and adults – including parents and employers – to find out what those most-invested in education thought not only about the state of education and work, but about the future of both.

The clear opportunity illuminated by the survey: There is broad recognition that American high schools are not doing enough to prepare students for success outside of academic settings, which is at odds with what most believe to be the purpose of high school – to prepare students for the real world.

Survey participants indicated that students are graduating high school college-ready, not career-ready. Across the board, “real world skills” are seen as the best way to help prepare students for success in the workforce. Further, employers, even white-collar employers, responded that they are open to hiring someone without a college degree. Experience stands out as the most important factor in hiring decisions with employers rating it more important than success with subject matter.

As our society experiences a rapid technological revolution, nearly one in five adults believe their job won’t exist in 20 years, and the majority of students believe the job they’ll have in 20 years hasn’t even been invented yet.

Learn more about what people think the next generations of workers need to be future-ready. Download the full report [PDF] >