Who are the students in your programs for working professionals?

Expert Insight

Who are the students in your programs for working professionals?

Launching and repositioning programs that can compete in a challenging market for professional, continuing, and online education requires a nuanced understanding of what motivates students to enroll. But all too often, working professionals who enroll in these programs are treated as one monolithic segment—or divided into career changers vs. career advancers.

A closer look at the diverse needs and motivations of working professionals reveals new opportunities for COE units to design programs that appeal to different segments and develop targeted recruitment strategies.

At the recent launch of the COE national meeting series, we examined the educational needs and goals of six distinct segments of working professionals at different stages of the career lifecycle. For some segments, prospects may not even realize that a new credential or skill is needed for their next step, while other segments may realize the need, but value skills more than a specific credential.

Complex motivations and inflection points exist across career lifecycles

Each segment represents an opportunity for COE units to develop a tailored marketing and recruiting strategy and provide guidance for course and credential design. For example:

  • Prospects who prepare for a career switch should view the educational pathways that map to different careers
  • Emphasize short format, accelerated offerings to prospects currently upskilling in place
  • Prospects who return to the workforce need more traditional credentials that signal preparation for a new role

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