UPCEA/Pearson Report: Demographic Shifts in Educational Demand and the Rise of Alternative Credentialing, Changes from 2016 to 2017


We live in an age where the pace of change is pounding ahead all around us. For society to survive, universities and their learning programs must adapt to this acceleration or risk losing the central position they hold.

Many of the megatrends that framed and motivated the 2016 version of this study have only grown and accelerated:

  • Demographic shifts and economic changes have witnessed Baby Boomers become the largest segment of the gig economy, while Gen Z (“digital natives”) and Millennials grow to become the largest segment of the workforce.
  • The pervasiveness of digital experiences on our phones, in games and all around us has spilled over into learning and, along with it, expectations are changing about how learning experiences and formats should evolve to incorporate new behaviors and expectations from our digital lives.
  • Changes in the labor economy and the relationship between employers and workers have driven the rising expectation that individuals must keep themselves upskilled to stay employed.
  • The skills gap reported by employers continues to grow with more urgency, while at the same time new collaborative models emerge that show new ways for universities and employers to work together to bridge these gaps.
  • In response to these drivers, the explosion of alternative education providers has continued and, along with it, new and creative models for collaboration are emerging between online learning groups, companies and universities.

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