Adult Learners

Across the United States, there are over 100 million working-aged adults who do not hold any postsecondary credential. To find success in a rapidly-shifting economy, more adults need to pursue higher education and training opportunities. However, traditional higher education was built to serve youth pursuing education full-time, directly after high school, not adults needing to gain new skills, credentials, or switch careers. 

Change is imperative for adults to have access to timely and affordable credentials on their schedule with the holistic support to pursue education while balancing numerous other responsibilities such as work, family, and children. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to millions of job losses and shuttered entire industries, accelerated the urgent need for higher education systems to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of adult learners—particularly people of color and those working in lower-income jobs, who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic’s economic fallout.

ESG works with higher education institutions, states, and other key postsecondary leaders to build tools, resources, and processes to reorient higher education systems to better serve adult learners.