The Shifting American Economy: Trends and Challenges in Family Engagement

Education and training beyond high school are critical for long-term career success; however, as our economy has shifted, the range of postsecondary options available to students has expanded and diversified.

As two-year degrees, apprenticeship programs, non-degree credentials, industry-recognized credentials, and other options become more readily available, the landscape that students and their families must navigate has become more complex than ever before. How are parents and families getting the information they need about different postsecondary options and how those options connect to their labor market so that they can feel confident in supporting their students as they make important decisions about their future? 

In early 2020, Education Strategy Group (ESG) kicked off a new body of work, supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, to better understand and address challenges facing education leaders in communicating and engaging with families about shifts in the labor market and what those shifts mean for the ever-evolving range of postsecondary pathways available to their students. 

In the three-plus years since we began this work, we have had dozens of conversations with school, district, state, community, and national leaders about trends in challenges in family engagement; built an adaptable communications toolkit for communicators to use as a starting point in their efforts; and shared our research and tools with communities across the country via a series of local workshops. Through our conversations and connections with leaders across the country during a time of rapid and significant change, we’ve seen these challenges and trends evolve in real time, and have noted several key themes for those engaging with families to consider as they build their strategies. 

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The Shifting American Economy: Trends and Challenges in Engaging Families on Postsecondary Pathways