Benchmark This!

Latest Trends Impacting Marketing and Higher Education
from Director of UPCEA's Center for Research and Strategy, Jim Fong

Millennial Managers: The Gateway Toward Alternative Credentials

Society has jeered Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1994 or roughly being between 22 and 37 years of age) for their differences, as opposed to appreciating their unique qualities and strengths.  Many entered the economy after earning their bachelor’s degree only to find the economy in a recession and Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) choosing to postpone retirement.  As a result, under or unemployment breached 40%.  Given the promise of success after graduating and that the debt  they incurred would be well worth the investment, would Millennials issue an economic or political payback to higher education institutions?  Figure 1 shows that there may be some animosity toward higher education or that elements of the bachelor’s degree need to change, as the value of the bachelor’s degree appears to be losing value, especially among Millennials who experienced the heart of the 2008 recession.

Millennials will seize power by 2020.  They currently outnumber Baby Boomers[1] overall and have recently passed them in terms of numbers in the workforce.[2]  Millennials are now becoming managers in roles that are critical to professional, continuing and online education units.  They will become directors or managers of human resources, training and talent retention.  They will also be unit managers, managing teams of engineers, nurses and analysts and will have decision-making authority as to training and continuing education.  In fact, in a recent UPCEA survey, 35% of Millennials employed full-time have that authority, managing teams or controlling a budget for education.

With the perceived value of the bachelor’s degree in potential decline, will this open up new alternatives to learning?  Will higher education improve the bachelor’s degree or over time, will Millennials begin to favor alternative credentials to meet employee needs?  Figure 2 shows that Millennial managers are certainly more open to new ways of learning and as a result, this finding could be a foundation for PCO units to build upon as they re-engineer or re-design their bachelor’s degree programs.  The figure shows that Millennials are more likely to support alternative credentials as compared to their predecessors in Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980) and Baby Boomers.

Additional research reports and future presentations and webinars on UPCEA’s Survey of Generational Managers will also show greater support for MOOCs, badges and certificates.


[2] Pew Research 2018

Jim Fong, UPCEA

Lead consultant Jim Fong, the founding director of UPCEA’s Center for Research and Strategy, has extensive background in marketing at Penn State, as well as experience in private industry. Jim brings a rich understanding of the dynamics driving today’s higher education leaders, providing research-driven strategy and positioning. Jim often presents at UPCEA’s regional and national conferences, sharing vital information with attendees.

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