The LinkedIn survey contains important information, but digging below the averages is necessary to benefit from it
A national survey of adults conducted by LinkedIn and SimpsonScarborough shows a significant increase in the number of adults interested in education, to almost 50%. Of these, 80% indicated that they would like to continue this online training.
This may not be surprising, but reader beware.
To fully benefit from research, higher education institutions should look below reported averages and aggregate adult totals. Failure to do so could lead institutions to group together potential learners who seek more education for two fundamentally different sets of reasons – or Work to do– and must therefore be recruited and served differently.
Confusing these two tasks at hand and creating a message that targets all adults based on their demographic and average motivation would be a mistake.
To be clear, the reported survey results do not segment adults by causation and circumstance, but big clues in the report suggest that there are two distinct sets of reasons.
Jobs to do and why students enroll in school
To understand the nuance, it’s important to be clear about what a job to do. A job to do is the progress someone seeks in a difficult situation. The framework focuses on finding causality, not correlation. What is it that prompts someone to take a certain action – in this case, seek more education – and, more importantly, why now?
Jobs to Be Done also recognizes that people don’t make decisions for just one reason. People do things for a multitude of functional, emotional and social reasons. A job to be done encapsulates all of the forces that push someone to act.
In our book Choose College, we discovered five tasks to explain why people enroll in education after high school. The book goes much further than I can here, but the two to-dos that the LinkedIn and SimpsonScarborough survey seem to have selected are what we call “Help Me Extend Myself” and “Help Me Step It Up”.
Students looking to expand are looking to enroll to learn more and challenge themselves, pursue a clear vision, gain specific skills or certifications and they do so when they finally feel ready and have the time and can integrate it into their life and budget.
Those who seek to progress say that what they are doing now is not what they are and that they have to do it because they know they can do better. While those looking to expand are okay with what they are doing now, students looking to go to school to help them progress must quit their current job or role. For them, it is not that they are finally ready, it is that they feel that their time is running out and it is now or never because they are facing an impending step and others rely on them or they are fed up with living a paycheck for paycheck. They are generally afraid of the direction of things unless they take action.
Identify jobs in survey results
So how do the survey results relate?
A significant percentage (49%) of adults seeking to continue their education report that it is for “self-interest / enrichment”. It looks a lot like the “Help me lay down” job.
The survey also suggests that a high percentage (38%) are looking to learn so that they can update their skills to change career fields. And among them, 66% are looking to make more money.
What to think of this observation? Many would be tempted to say that this sounds like Job’s progress and to confuse these results.
But the published survey data is not precise enough to definitively conclude anything. Some of that 38% might be looking to expand – chasing a dream they have long held and now they have time to pursue it, but they will get away with it if it doesn’t work and they don’t realize the dream. cash. Or they might seek to escalate it under more difficult circumstances, “now or never”.
But does the fact that so many of these people want to make more money give us more clues? Not necessarily. Making more money can’t hurt anyone, but it’s important to understand why – the causality – behind the desire to make more money. Those looking to step it up probably need more money because people are counting on them and are fed up with living paycheck to paycheck.
This is important because there is a sense of urgency that is essential to capture in reaching out to these learners, but that same sense of urgency will simply not exist for those looking to to extend for whom more money is of course a desire, but not so existential. Speaking with this urgency would ignore – and speak beyond – these learners.
Is it important? Maybe not at a functional level, but to serve these students well it is important to understand why they are enrolling on a social and emotional level and to adapt accordingly.
Why it matters
Why is all this important? The LinkedIn and SimpsonScarborough survey contains important data that can be extremely valuable, but only if coupled with a real understanding of what drives people to sign up and the different circumstances they find themselves in.
Without that context – and without an understanding of the language that individuals, not institutions and pollsters, use to describe their actions – it’s too easy to lump all adults together as one demographic and one character and duds with one size fits all. no marketing campaign and educational offer.