As we continue to think about how best to prepare our current and future workforce for the opportunities that will present themselves, we have to look at how we can and should synergize the offerings at our institutions of higher education and our workforce development goals.
Higher education institutions have begun and should continue to look at their students' career goals and the ways various credentials can give them access to those career fields they want to pursue. Occupational credentialing is an ongoing topic of conversation these days in higher education. This is an important conversation as we try to grow lifelong learners who in turn will become lifelong earners. By allowing individuals to “stack” credentials, a mixture of degree-based and/or nontraditional occupational certificates, licenses, apprenticeships etc that accurately assess the knowledge and skills of the recipient, we can organically grow our knowledge economy. This will lead to a more direct pathway to better employment opportunities and higher wages.
Singularly thinking that a college degree is the only road to the middle class in our country is shortsighted, naïve and diminishes the role that other avenues provide for attaining this goal. If we are to grow our middle class we need to think outside of the box towards ways to reverse the scarcity of opportunity we see in our country. The following is a policy paper written by Senior Fellow, Anne Kim, from the Progressive Policy Institute that offers just that. I hope you will take the time to read it and let me know what you think.