Degrees of Risk

American Student Assistance and Jobs for the Future present Degrees of Risk, a landmark study on Gen Z and employer perceptions of education-to-career pathways.  

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Table of Contents


Research Findings

In this report you will learn about Gen Z and employer perceptions of education-to-career pathways and barriers to adoption—and how they’re changing.

College enrollment is on the decline, Gen Z is questioning the cost and value of higher education, and employers face an ongoing struggle to fill jobs with talented candidates. The traditional message that college is the only path to a fulfilling career is outdated. It’s time to examine what it really means to be employable, and what professional and educational paths can lead to success.  

In Degrees of Risk, American Student Assistance (ASA) and Jobs for the Future (JFF) use original research on Gen Z and employers to set an important baseline of where we are today and name the barriers we must overcome to expand high-quality postsecondary options for all learners. Key findings include:

Degrees of Risk-02-1 81% of employers agree organizations should hire based on skills rather than degrees.
Degrees of Risk-01 58% of Gen Z students agree companies should hire more high school graduates who have pursued non-degree pathways.

Gen Z and employers agree it’s time to think beyond the college degree but factors like risk aversion and lack of information stand in the way.
Degrees of Risk sends a clear message: to meet the needs of today’s workforce, we need to transform how we prepare students to transition from education to career.   



Launching Fall 2022

Degrees of Risk is part of ASA and JFF’s partnership to transform how people understand, engage with, and evaluate the wide array of education-to-career options that exist today. This fall, we are launching an online hub with new research and the latest resources to support the path forward.


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About Us

American Student Assistance logoAmerican Student Assistance (ASA) is a national nonprofit changing the way middle and high schoolers learn about careers and navigate education-to-career opportunities. Learn more.


JFF logoJobs for the Future (JFF) drives transformation of the American workforce and education systems to achieve equitable economic advancement for all. Learn more.