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Many countries are criticized for favoring those in privileged positions which enables them a leg-up in the corporate world. Unfortunately, there are now fewer chances for Americans to build their skills and get on in the workplace unless they have a top degree or the right connections. In fact, a report by The Economist has shown that if people become trapped in low salary jobs or can’t find the right work, it affects not only their life but also their family—contributing to a cycle of disadvantage and social immobility. It’s therefore fundamentally important to ensure that those in lower paid positions are afforded the opportunities to education and training, thus helping them progress within their workplace, if not outside of it. Indeed, such a case would also benefit the economic and social mobility of the country.

According to the Education and the Workforce Committee, the recent “economic downturn is a reminder of how critically important education and training opportunities are to workers in an increasingly competitive global economy. Training and education can create jobs and help put Americans back to work”. Once an individual hits the job market they should be entitled to the same opportunities within an organization as anybody else. Yes, a college education is important but it’s also important to ensure those who work in the mailroom, for example, are given the tools to reach their full potential. Most professions are dominated by those educated in the best or private schools and from a handful of universities. Thus, it goes without saying that access to education and training is beneficial. But, what about those who want to work their way up the corporate ladder without these advantages?

Research shows that initial education and family background has less to do with movement within organizations. Because once someone has their foot in the door, their progression has more to do with self-motivation, self-development—along with the corporate training (that is, education and training) and company development opportunities provided by their employer. As in school, the harder you work in a company, the better you will do.

an infographic showing data about employed college graduates amid the discussion on the availability of education and training in the workplace

Other Education and Training Opportunities

For those who did not seek higher education or enter top colleges, it is important for organizations to offer job education and training and additional support to encourage workers to achieve more.  Those who do not necessarily see higher education as worth the time or money can improve their own mobility by working hard and committing with their chosen vocation or organization, and thus, climb the ladder that way. With the abundance of part-time, online and flexible courses available for job education and training, as well as corporate guidance to develop one’s skill set and gain new qualifications, formal education does not have to be the only means of improving one’s lot. As a matter of fact, improving an individual’s chances to get on in work will help drive and improve economic and social mobility.

According to Gallup, a majority of workers believe that a college degree is not needed to progress in the workplace. With 4 in 10 employed college graduates saying a college degree is not required for the work they do, students are increasingly looking at other means of education and training, such as vocational education, technical training, online education, self-directed learning, and internships to succeed. Thus, a key to ensuring progression in the workplace is by choosing a vocation with lifelong mobility. Ensuring that the choices made at the start of a career will enable one to have a smoother path to promotion and progression throughout.

Benefitting Overall Economic and Social Mobility

It’s true that employers are looking more at extra-curricular support for their workers— including online training and even funding workers through education and training —to ensure their workforce is the best in the business. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, college courses give employees new “general skills” that raise the ability of these workers to qualify for higher pay—their market wage—and allow them to more easily switch to another job in another company. It is, thus, the firm’s responsibility to supply their employees with these opportunities, which in turn ensures their company an overall professional edge within their industry. Other avenues, including internships and placements, can provide valuable opportunities for young people to gain extra skills, increase their understanding of the job, or to gain experiences in other areas. Once workers prove the competencies required within a specific area they will then be able to progress within that field. Progression in the workplace is the key to improving economic and social mobility in the United States.

At the end of it all, economic and social mobility depends on increasing fair access to jobs, and by providing education and training to those who might not have access to a formal or ‘top’ education achieves this goal.

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