As demand for education agents grows in the world’s key markets, it should be no surprise they’re working harder than ever. But while you might expect the extra workload to be taking a toll the opposite is true, according to the latest results from Cohort Go’s new The State of Education Agents 2019 report.
Some of the results from this research are remarkable but perhaps none more so than the level of job satisfaction among agents. When Cohort Go surveyed more than 400 agents and other people in related roles a whopping 94% of respondents said they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with their day-to-day role. Levels of dissatisfaction among these workers, who were drawn from dozens of countries and placed students in all the major education markets, were all but non-existent. Of the remaining agents, a little more than 5% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their day-to-day activities, and just 0.5% had something negative to say about their roles.
It’s impossible to take anything too concrete out of looking at these figures next to other professions measured with different datasets, but it’s worth comparing them anyway. Job and recruiting site Glassdoor released its latest job satisfaction figures in March 2019 and very few of even the most satisfying roles came close to the levels reported to Cohort Go. Converting from Glassdoor’s rating out of five to a percentage, recruiting managers were the most satisfied, with 92%. Perhaps there’s something inherently satisfying about connecting people and organisations to help improve the situation for both parties? Dental hygienists, sales operations manager and product designers all hovered around 90% satisfaction while marketing assistants, the next most satisfying role, couldn’t top 86%.
The demand for education agents doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon. In countries such as Australia, New Zealand and to a slightly lesser extent, the UK, the roles are already heavily entrenched in the higher education system. Even in the US, where many policies were actively hostile towards commission-based agents for many years, the numbers are growing.
Back in 2016, ICEF Monitor found about half of all institutions were already either working directly with agents (37%) or doing so indirectly through pathway providers. This all points to two things: more work for existing agents and the likely addition of more agents into the industry. If the job satisfaction figures above are anything to go by, the extra workload doesn’t seem to be a problem.
The increase in demand is certainly reflected in the responses to the survey. While not as overwhelming as the job satisfaction levels, almost three quarters of respondents (71.60%) said their workload was increasing year-by-year. Of the remainder, a further one in five (18.52%) said things had stayed steady, leaving hardly any agents (8.40%) feeling like they were doing less than the year before. Most of the non-respondents hadn’t been working long enough to give a proper answer but one of them provided an interesting perspective: “It’s like a merry go round, sometimes I am busy, most of the time not.”
When it comes to job satisfaction, there’s one more interesting finding coming out of the report that’s worth exploring: the value of relationships. Two thirds of agents (68.89%) rated personal relationships as the most important aspect of their work with education providers, ranking only behind transparency on cost and course information (74.07%). When you consider how deeply linked the roles of agent and education provider can become, it’s easy to imagine the strength of those relationships would have a big influence on job satisfaction.
With that in mind, it’s worth digging into the biggest challenges agents face when dealing with institutions. Hopefully, these responses can help both agents and institutions to run things a little more smoothly, or at least show some of the frustrations are more or less universal. Some of the most common themes revolved around communication, particularly the need for timely responses to emails. Others noted paperwork delays and revisited the importance of clear information available both over the web and via direct communication.
“When they do not reply as soon as possible. When they are so hard to reach sometimes and attention is really needed”
“Do not respond promptly to your enquiries.”
“The biggest challenge is managing all information to provide the best services.”
“Quality in programs and service, as well as in the clarity of communications.”
”The paper work sometimes takes too long to process.”
Read The State of Education Agents 2019 report in full here.