Employer demand for microcredentials is increasing, a new study by UPCEA and Collegis Education shows

Employer demand for microcredit is increasing, according to a new study released today by Collegis Education and UPCEA, the association for college and university leaders in online and professional development. The report, The Effect of Employer Understanding and Engagement on Non-Degree Credentials, includes the perspectives of leaders from 500 organizations on their perceptions of the value of non-degree and alternative credentials.

Ninety-five percent of respondents said they see benefits from microcredentials, particularly because they show an employee’s willingness to develop their skills (76 percent); show initiative (63 percent) and are an easy way to convey employee skills and abilities (60 percent). Business leaders were particularly interested in stackable credentials that led to a degree, with 80 percent saying it increases their appeal.

“UPCEA’s mission is to help colleges and universities evolve their programs to meet the changing needs of employers and adult students. Microcredentials can play a crucial role in the New Economy. However, similar to how online degrees were perceived two decades ago, some are critical of the quality of non-degree programs despite a lack of evidence of a systematic problem,” said Jim Fong, chief research officer, UPCEA. “Findings from the Collegis/UPCEA research show that business leaders value microcredentials and non-degree programming, but are often unaware of it. Those who are aware agree that quality can be addressed through closer collaboration between employers and higher education.”

Although many employers recognize the value of alternative qualifications in today’s workforce, a pervasive problem lies in their standardization and proper assessment of the validity and applicability of courses and certifications. Although 20 percent of survey respondents had little or no concern about non-degree or alternative qualifications having a negative impact on the workforce, 17 percent were concerned about incorrect/irrelevant qualifications/lack of key skills/training, 12 percent cited the quality of Education/validation of credentials and 11 percent reported a lack of educational/work experience.

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When selecting a college or university to collaborate in developing a microcredit program, business leaders said they are motivated by demonstrating program effectiveness (65 percent) and more than 50 percent want to play a role in developing the program. While the report identifies a significant market opportunity for college microcredit, only 44 percent of organizations said they had been approached by a college or university about a potential program.

“At Collegis, we have helped many colleges and universities develop successful microcredit programs over the past decade. Most recently with Saint Louis University’s Cannabis Science and Operations microcredential program, where our partner identified an emerging industry and the opportunity to develop a program to support the workforce of an expanding field,” said Tracy A. Chapman, Ph.D. , Chief Academic Officer at Collegis . “We collaborated with UPCEA on this study because we wanted a broader insight into the business world’s perception of micro-ID cards and whether there are untapped opportunities for higher education institutions to leverage these types of programs to create a steady stream of enrollments and new revenue streams . The answer is unequivocally yes.”

The full study is available for download at: Microcredentials from Higher Ed Institutions – What Employers Want (collegiseducation.com)


UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing education and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA today serves most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. For 100 years, the association has offered its members innovative conferences and specialist seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications. Learn more at upcea.edu.

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About CollegisEducation

With a proactive and data-driven approach, Collegis Education empowers institutions to make a broader impact by providing insights that help increase enrollment, improve student outcomes and optimize spending. Collegis Education currently works with more than 40 institutions nationwide.

For more information, visit CollegisEducation.com and follow Collegis on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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