Conventional wisdom is that higher education is countercyclical. During recessions, and periods of high unemployment, people use the time to go back to school and upskill.
Another article of faith is that—even as adults go back to school—employers will cut back on their education programs in recessions. As Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills at the left-of-center think tank New America, told Inside Higher Ed, benefits get cut when times are tough.
Which is why it’s noteworthy that that isn’t happening right now. Against a backdrop of historic unemployment and high uncertainty for America’s employers, there’s been renewed interest and investment in education and upksilling. Flagship publications like Inside Higher Ed have picked up on the trend: Savvy and forward-thinking employers are doubling down on education right now because it’s a strategic move with a clear return on investment.