Magazine article Talent Development

Partnerships Help Fill Gap in Educational Qualifications: Convert Employee Training to College Credit by Following These Steps

Magazine article Talent Development

Partnerships Help Fill Gap in Educational Qualifications: Convert Employee Training to College Credit by Following These Steps

Article excerpt

Although employers continue to seek and reward credentialed employees, nearly half of the U.S. workforce-approximately 50 million adults-has only a high school education or less. At the same time, projections indicate that requirements for educational qualifications will rise in the next three to five years across all job categories. Employers, colleges, and universities cannot fill this gap by working in isolation. The need for productive and robust partnerships among business, industry, and higher education is paramount.

What it is

Partnerships, beneficial to both employees and employers, involve the translation of qualified workplace training into college-level credit. This credit can be obtained either through training programs that meet specific criteria, or by the successful completion of exams that lead to industry-recognized credentials.

To reduce the amount of time and cost it takes for an employee to receive his credentials, and to add value to employee training programs that will benefit the employer, there must be a clear pathway. This begins with the acquisition of knowledge and skills gained from workplace training, and provides a means to support employees through to degree completion.

There are two ways to create this pathway. One avenue is for each employee interested in obtaining a degree to undergo an individual prior-learning assessment and produce a portfolio substantiating learning acquired from work experience, which can then be assessed for academic credit.

The second possibility is for an employer to submit the curriculum and assessments from its training programs to a third-party assessor or partner institution, which will conduct an academic evaluation that would determine college credit equivalencies. This route can offer a wide-reaching, low-cost, high-value addition to corporate and industry training programs.

Guidelines

One of the most important decisions for organizations and talent development professionals is with whom they partner to have their training assessed-either directly with a college or university partner, or through a third-party assessor. There are, naturally, advantages and disadvantages to each of these approaches.

Third party, fee-for-service evaluators (listed in the resources section) provide portable credit, meaning that employees can strive to obtain college credit at colleges and universities throughout the country based on the third-party credit recommendations. Since the credit is only "recommended," however, institutions are not obligated to grant the credit or to apply it toward a degree program.

In many cases, the credit may only be accepted as elective credit, if at all. Thus, an employer would be wise to check with educational institutions of interest to its employees before choosing this method, and ask about the institution's prior learning assessment and transfer policies. Although third-party assessors differ, they generally charge fees for application, evaluation, site visit travel, and annual maintenance or membership. Evaluations, depending on size and scope, can range from $6,000 to upwards of $100,000.

Having the credit evaluation provided directly by a partnering higher education institution with degree options that meet an employer's needs will guarantee acceptance of the credit at that institution. …

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