Combining short-term industry certificates with college degrees is an increasingly popular strategy … [+]
A new survey commissioned by Coursera, the online learning platform and a pioneer of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS), reveals that large majorities of employers and students view short-term, industry certificates as a worthwhile addition to a college degree and a valuable credential in the hiring and job-seeking process.
This strong interest in so-called micro-credentials comes at a time when a number of major companies – including Accenture, IBM, Google, Bank of America and others – are no longer requiring college degrees for many entry-level jobs, removing a “paper ceiling” as they try to build a more diverse workforce and address the talent gaps that continue to plague a number of industries.
Industry certificates are appealing to both student and employers because they help students acquire practical skills that are expected in many beginning positions, increasing their prospects for landing and succeeding at a good job, which remains the number one motive students and their families give for attending college.
Coursera conducted the new study in collaboration with the market research firm Dynata, which surveyed 3,600 students and employers across eight countries – Australia, India, France, Germany, Mexico, Turkey, the UK, and the United States – about “the motivations, needs, and challenges” of degree-seeking students and employers hiring them.
Among the key survey findings for students, summarized in a Coursera blog by Scott Shireman, the company’s Global Head for Campus:
Among U.S. employers:
In May of this year, Coursera added six new professional certificates and a new Career Academy to its growing catalogue of online learning products and educational programs. The new certificates, developed in collaboration with Google, IBM, Meta, and Intuit among others, are concentrated in the areas of information technology, web development, and software engineering and are aimed at preparing learners, even those who have no college degree or relevant work experience, for new careers in those fields.
According to Coursera, a number of universities, such as Boise State University, Hawaii Pacific University, University of North Texas, and the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education are combining micro-credentials with traditional academic degrees to equip students with the practical skills they need to succeed in new jobs.
Pairing the two types of credentials is a triple-threat: it offers advantages to students, institutions and employers. By adding professional certificates to their academic offerings, higher education institutions can fill in gaps in their existing curricula, meet students’ demand for skill-based learning, and improve their competitive standing – and potentially their enrollments – in the process.
Employers endorse the certificate+degree combo as well because it increases their confidence that new graduates who’ve earned both enter the workforce better prepared with the skills necessary to perform their jobs well.