Why you need credit offerings in continuing education

Tue, Mar 11,2014 @ 11:45 AM
by Julie Coates |

Julie Coates, Vice President for Research, LERNThe demographics of students are changing more rapidly than ever before. Both traditional-aged students, who will make up a declining number of learners over the next decade, and non-traditional students are facing the need to master the skills needed in a changed workplace.

As with every other aspect of business, efficiency has become an essential part of education. We must adapt our programs to meet the needs of the economy, and we must do it more efficiently and more economically than ever before.

By 2018, 63 percent of all jobs in America will require at least some postsecondary education. This is a critical issue for the business community, given that the majority of working adults today do not possess a college degree or industry-recognized credentials. U.S. business is confronting a persistent skills gap, and it is no longer possible to continue with business as usual in higher education.

There are increasing efforts among colleges and universities to develop models of education which will address the pressing needs within the workforce for more highly skilled workers, equipped to be successful in a 21st century economy.

Once leading the world in higher education for young adults, the U.S. is lagging well behind other developed nations in producing an educated workforce.  Canada is in the lead for having 55.8 percent of the country’s population obtaining at least an associate’s degree. The U.S. lags behind at 40.4 percent.

Demand for workers with college educations will outpace supply to the tune of 300,000 per year by 2018.

  • By 2018, the postsecondary system will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than demanded by the labor market.

In order to meet the demand for educated workers, it is essential that we develop new strategies and models that will help address the shortfalls in skilled workers. Skilled workers are essential for a strong domestic economy. By attending the C.E. and Credit Institute, April 23 - 25 in Tucson, you will take away financial benchmarks and the best marketing strategies for credit. You will also learn how to increase your credit revenue and profitability, and up visibility within your institution.

According to Georgetown University research, demand for college-educated workers will continue to increase over the next ten years:

  • Between 2008 and 2018, demand for college-educated workers will rise by 16 percent while demand for other workers will stay flat.
  • Demand for college-educated workers in nearly half of the states will grow two to three times faster than demand for high school graduates or dropouts. In six states (IN, MA, ME, MI, MN and OH), jobs that require a college education will grow five to seven times faster.
  • Demand for college-educated workers in four states (ME, MI, MN, and OH) will grow five- to six-times faster than demand for high school graduates or dropouts.
  • By 2018, nearly two thirds of the nation’s jobs will require some postsecondary education or training.

Our current system of higher education is not producing the number of skilled workers necessary for a strong economy.

Some institutions have begun to develop new approaches to education that will address this problem and which will increase the numbers of students who achieve the necessary skills to be productive contributors in the 21st century workforce.

The idea that non-credit learning can be articulated for credit is novel in higher education. Central administrations have been reluctant to embrace this idea, and many faculty members have been slow to acknowledge that the current system is not working. The skill set that contributes to success in continuing education is the centerpiece for creating a system which will be successful in increasing the number of credentialed workers available for information jobs in the new economy.

A variety of strategies have been tested by leading edge institutions. These include:

  • Collaborating with continuing education to take advantage of the skill set there to increase successful completion of credit courses. For institutions wishing to enter the credit arena, identifying the value of continuing education capabilities to meet the completion goals of the credit side of the house needs to be carried out and leveraged.
  • Making better connections between non-credit and credit. This includes such strategies as stackable certificates, articulated credit, credit for prior learning, and on-the-job training. Recognizing the learning that takes place outside the formal classroom setting is a powerful tool in fostering successful degree or certificate completion, those on the non-credit side of the house must continue advocating for articulation of non-credit to credit. This requires collaboration with the credit side of the house.
  • Incubator programs. There are several models for creating incubator programs in non-credit that move students into credit-bearing courses. This can be a win-win for both credit and non-credit, but it requires cooperative planning. Issues related to revenue sharing must also be addressed.
  • Policy versus practice. There are many practices that limit innovative and entrepreneurial thinking that are often mislabeled as policies. Continuing Education credit practitioners must become policy experts and realize that many things presented as policy are really only traditional practice. Pushing the boundaries on these rules can result in breaking down barriers. Areas where this is most evident are in the arenas of accounting, tuition, academic rules, etc.  Once policy and practice have been clarified, it is often much easier to move forward in providing credit.
  • Business/Education Collaboration. Best-practice companies are engaging in innovative Learn and Earn partnerships to support talent-development practices to invest in the education and skills of their workforce. These partnerships play an important role in strengthening the competitiveness of our economy and our ability to compete in the increasingly complex global marketplace.
Download: C.E. and Credit  Programming Institute Brochure


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