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The Next America | Education / College Board/National Journal Poll

Skillfully Climbing the Ladder

When it comes to education or skills training, blacks and Hispanics are most likely to believe that more learning will boost their careers and livelihoods.

Students from China and Cuba study in a Miami classroom.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

November 13, 2013

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to believe that their careers could benefit from more education or skills training. The new College Board/National Journal Next America Poll shows that Americans' attitudes on education split along racial lines, with minorities much more optimistic about the effects of further academic study or skills training on their own careers.

A small majority of whites, 52 percent, said they believed their careers would benefit from "additional skill training or a further academic credential," compared with nearly three-quarters (73 percent), of nonwhites. Among minorities, Hispanics were the most optimistic: 79 percent said more training or education would boost their careers. Seventy percent of blacks, and 63 percent of Asians said the same.

The results highlight a diverging worldview among those living in the U.S. based on race, with minorities more optimistic regarding the economy, their personal financial situations, and even the value of college.

 

The results are also notable as another budget debate looms and lawmakers from both parties, representing increasingly polarized constituencies, prepare to prioritize spending. Minorities are more likely than whites to believe that spending more on education would do more than tax cuts to improve the economic circumstances of their communities, the poll showed.

Those without college degrees were more likely than their more-educated peers to say that more training or another academic credential would benefit them professionally. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those without a four-year degree thought they'd see a bump professionally from more education, compared with 55 percent of those with a degree.

But even among those without a four-year degree, the racial divide persists. Whites without a college degree were significantly less likely to believe they'd get a boost from more education or training than nonwhites with the same level of education. Only 51 percent of whites without a college degree believed their careers would benefit, compared with 75 percent of nonwhites, the poll shows.

Results also showed that workers with college degrees were more likely to say they frequently used the skills and knowledge gained from their education on the job than those without a college degree. Nearly two-thirds (73 percent) of college-educated workers said they deployed their education at work. Slightly less than half (49 percent) of those without degrees said the same.

On this question, respondents divided along educational lines rather than by race. Whites and nonwhites with four-year degrees were nearly as likely to say they used their educations frequently on the job: 73 percent and 75 percent respectively, compared with 50 percent of whites and 47 percent of nonwhites without a degree who said the same.

The College Board/National Journal Next America Poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, surveyed 1,272 adults ages 18 and older from Oct. 14-24, in English and Spanish, through landlines and cell phones. It includes oversamples of 245 African-Americans, 229 Hispanics, and 107 Asian-Americans; the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the overall sample, with larger error margins for the subgroups. The poll is one component of National Journal's Next America project, which examines how changing demography is changing the national agenda.

Second in a five-part series. Click here to download the topline results from the poll and access in your download folder.

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