Although employers often have different opinions on workforce issues, research shows that they agree on one thing: the importance of an educated workforce. The question, however, is the definition of the word educated. In previous generations, formal education often halted when an individual found employment, with subsequent education gained through work experience. Due to advancements in technology, however, the traditional educational model is increasingly under attack over its ability to effectively help businesses to remain competitive. Today’s businesses need individuals with specific, up-to-date, relevant skills for their positions. One solution to this need is stackable credentials, which allows employers to find or maintain specific skillsets in their organizations. These short term programs also help employees enhance their value across a wide spectrum of industries and experience levels.
But what are stackable credentials and is there demand? According to Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker, president and CEO of CSU-Global, stackable credentials are the wave of the future. “During the last recession, many engaged in or re-entered higher education to increase their job market viability. However, the expected return on investment didn’t necessarily materialize at the speed or magnitude desired,” said Takeda-Tinker. “If we experience another dip in GDP growth, I believe that we will see increasing numbers of people seeking short term upskilling opportunities. This kind of assistance will be found through alternative bootcamp and non-credit educational opportunities, and through short academic programs that employers can recognize and understand in their evaluation of potential employees.”
Stackable credentials refer to an accumulation of academically-based qualifications that provide verification of a small, defined set of skills and abilities. These targeted credentials can help job seekers be highly desirable to employers as they seek higher paying jobs or transitions to new roles. For example, a computer programmer might seek a certification in cyber security to obtain a more specialized role within her organization. Such credentials, when later stacked onto other credentials, can also help holders to obtain a credential on the path to a full degree. For job seekers or employees, stackable credentials are valuable investments that can increase their market competitiveness and provide a tangible return-on-investment.
For employers, as technology continues to advance, identifying employees with specific skillsets will become increasingly important. In order to maintain competitiveness, employers will benefit from both investing in the upskilling of current employees, and hiring employees that understand the value of lifelong learning and demonstration of knowledge through programs that include stackable certificates. It is clear that the increasing scarcity of time and money driven by technology and globalization has necessitated change in many things in our world today. This change now includes formal education, making it an exciting time to be experiencing a broadening of opportunities for both employer and job seeker success.
Colorado State University-Global offers stackable credentials through 100% online certificate programs. For more information on how you, or your employees, can take advantage of these programs, visit csuglobal.edu/undergraduate/certificates.