Equity in Working and Learning

August 2017

Rapid economic change and innovation have led to a new reality in which education and work are no longer separate and sequential activities; instead, a majority of workers now see gaining new skills as important to their career success and well being. In recent years, ACT Center for Equity in Learning, Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, and others have placed a spotlight on working learners – individuals engaged simultaneously in both education and work – and documented the challenges and opportunities that working learners face in navigating educational pathways and career transitions. Yet, wider dynamics related to equity for working learners in the context of the U.S. workforce remain largely unexplored.

Who Does Work Work For?

August 2017

As a college degree remains a necessity for economic competitiveness, ever-widening pools of students pursue bachelor’s degrees at U.S. colleges and universities. These students face rising tuition costs and the need to cultivate demonstrable workplace skills and useful personal networks in order to compete for future career opportunities. From this perspective, working learners – or individuals engaging simultaneously with education and work – may enjoy a range of benefits. Their earnings during college may help to offset expenses for themselves and in some cases, their families. However, working while enrolled also allows students the opportunity to build on classroom learning in applied settings, to gain valuable workplace experiences, and to cultivate beneficial social and career networks.