Webinar Recap: Degrees at Work

Published on Sep 9, 2019

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Alex Doyle

Webinar Recap: Degrees at Work

Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s webinar discussing the findings of the report Degrees at Work: Examining the Serendipitous Outcomes of Diverse Degrees.

You can download our presentation and watch the recording below.

During the webinar, the authors of Degrees at Work talk about the surprising career outcomes of graduates who come from a range of degrees. After studying the job activity of a million professional profiles encompassing graduates of Language/Philosophy, Social Sciences, Business, Communications, Engineering, and IT programs, we found that 54% of all the profiles analyzed went into critical business functions, including sales, marketing, management, and business operations.

The authors share the top outcomes and skills clusters associated with each degree area to illuminate the specific type of work grads are doing in their current roles. The authors also discuss how educational institutions, employers, and communities can apply these insights to a number of areas, such as program planning and marketing, employer engagement, talent acquisition, economic and regional development, and more.

The webinar concludes with Q&A, which we’ve outlined below. Have a question that we didn’t answer? Let us know, and we’ll be in touch!

Webinar Outline:

    • Introduction to the report and authors (0:52)

    • Motivation for the research (2:11)

    • The common language of skills (8:05)

    • How we created Degrees at Work and key findings (11:50)

    • Outcomes and skills of diverse degrees (24:07)

    • What to do with this information (41:47)

    • Q&A (50:28)



Questions from the Webinar

Q: Did you include people with double majors in the study?

A: For this study, we only included people with one major.

Q: Did you look at people who sought more education or upskilled after their bachelors?

A: While upskilling is an important topic that we hope to cover more in further research, for this study we wanted to establish a baseline of what students could expect with the typical college degree. Hence, we didn’t look at any upskilling or further education.

Q: How do you distinguish skills learned on the job from skills learned in school?

A: By tracking graduates in their first few jobs (and paying special attention to where they go for their first job) we believe we can observe workers who are drawing on education as well as experience. In addition, observing skill differences in graduates from different degrees who enter the same career suggests to us that these differences originate at least partially in education. With that said, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done in articulating these nuances. Our hope is that as skills increasingly becomes a common language between higher education, the workforce, and the business world, it will become easier and easier to articulate the precise shape of skills learned in college.

Q: Do you plan to do this kind of mapping for associates degrees in the future?

A: We hope to continue this research in a variety of directions. While there’s nothing currently planned on that particular topic, the AA level would certainly be an exciting and fruitful field of inquiry.

Q: How would you use this research to recruit more liberal arts majors?

A: One of the biggest takeaways from our research was that it may not be necessary to deconstruct the entire education-to-career matching process. Instead, it may just be necessary to communicate better about how it works. Humanities programs are often perceived as having no predictable outcomes or clear pathway into the world of work. Our research shows that this is not the case, and communicating the reality to current and prospective students is vital.

Q: How would you convince businesses to be more flexible in who they hire?

A: In many cases, businesses just need to know what they’re already doing. Absent any empirical evidence, using a particular major as a filter for potential new hires feels like a safe bet. But if you can show businesses where much of their talent already comes from, you can make them less wary and more proactive about pulling talent from those areas in the future.

Q: How did you identify the top clusters?

A: For this paper, our data scientists ran cluster analysis on postings to determine the roles within various careers. These clusters were matched to the skills embedded in profiles for students from a given program. The match between the two determined the top four clusters. For more information on our methodology, please feel free to get in touch.

Q: Is this available for degrees outside the ones studied here?

A: While this research focused on six degree areas, Emsi can analyze career outcomes for any degree program. For example, we sometimes work with colleges and universities to provide alumni outcomes data specific to the institution’s programs. If you have questions or would like to explore a particular research question, please let us know!

Q: How much would this cost?

A: Pricing varies depending on the scope of work and number of records that need to be analyzed. Please contact us to learn more. We’d love to hear about the work you’re doing and explore how our data can help!