Postsecondary education plays an important role in producing a skilled workforce able to compete in the global economy. Some stakeholders have suggested that collecting information on graduates’ employment outcomes–whether they are employed in their field of study, for example–will provide better information to help assess the impact of a postsecondary education. The Higher Education Opportunity Act directed GAO to study the information that states have on the employment outcomes of postsecondary graduates. This report describes (1) the extent and purposes for which states collect employment-related information and the challenges they faced in doing so, (2) potential approaches to expanding states’ collection efforts across states and nationwide, and (3) how selected states and schools collaborate with employers to align education and workforce needs. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed relevant research and interviewed officials from the U.S. Departments of Education (Education) and Labor, as well as postsecondary institutions, state agencies, and employers in seven states and two countries selected based on their data collection capabilities.
Many States Collect Graduates’ Employment Information, but Clearer Guidance on Student Privacy Requirements Is Needed