employees who want to update skills, and employers see growing value in post-secondary credentials, different from degrees. Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025 is that 60 percent of Americans have a high-quality degree, certificate or other post-secondary credential by 2025. Achieving this goal is key to meeting the country’s need for skilled workers.
The current higher education attainment rate for adults age 25-64 is 47.6 percent. This includes adults who have certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees or graduate or professional degree. One way to help reach Goal 2025 is to recognize post-secondary credentials as a pathway to a degree. Karen Ferguson, Provost of Colorado State University Global Campus, says that credits from a post-secondary credential can often apply to a larger goal. Students can earn a certificate when they learn a skill to meet a specific goal. Often these credentials can stack to build on each other. When students are ready to move further ahead, for example to earn a degree, stackable credentials can help meet that goal. “Stackable credentials provide opportunities to earn the credentials needed to gain entry, or a promotion, in a given field. The benefit of earning a stackable credential is that it doesn’t go away – or expire.”
Earning a post-secondary credential of some kind before earning a degree is a growing trend. Between 2013 and 2018:
• 46 percent of the growth in bachelor’s degree went to people who already had a postsecondary credential
• 70 percent of growth in bachelor’s and associate degrees combined went to people who already had a postsecondary credential
For students age 40 and over:
• 58 percent of bachelor’s degree earners had a prior credential in 2018, compared to 51.4 percent in 2013.
• 34 percent of associate’s degree earners had a prior credential in 2018 compared to 24.5 percent in 2013.
Not only are students finding value in credentials prior to earning degrees, many find value in credentials as a way to stay up-to-date and learn new skills that they need for evolving jobs. Credential Clout: How Higher Ed can Prepare for an Evolving Job Market is a survey of students and recruiters by higher education software company Ellucian. Survey results show that both students and job recruiters understand the value of continuing education. Both student and recruiters think employees should take further education or credentialing programs an average of two years after completing their educational program. And with technology changes and advances requiring new skills, 45 percent of students and 39 percent of recruiters think that people need continuing education more than once a year to stay relevant. Earning credential or degree through employer TAP meets this need for continuing education.
Students’ future education plans reflect their understanding of the need for continuing education. Credential Clout reports that 88 percent of students plan to further their education beyond their current program. This can mean either an advanced degree or a credential of some kind: 51 percent will pursue a formal degree and 37 percent will pursue a credential to stay relevant in their career. They also see career growth as a result of earning a post-secondary credential. Ninety-seven think their work will benefit from a credential. More than half think it will lead to more responsibility in their job and help them get a promotion or a raise. Employer tuition programs help employees grow in their careers when they provide tuition for employees to continue education their education.
Hiring predictions reflect the trend of earning a post-secondary credential as a component of a higher education program. The vast majority of recruiters express that credentials will be important in making hiring decisions. Employers believe that more job candidates will come to them with credentials as well as degrees.
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