The Future of Nondegree Credentials

Posted by Strada Education Network on August 3, 2021

Certificates. Licenses. Microcredentials. Nanocredentials. Digital badges.

The array of options for postsecondary education and training has exploded over the last several decades, and interest is still growing: According to Strada research, 62 percent of Americans would prefer skills training or another nondegree option if they enrolled in education within the next six months.

Yet assessing their value — especially whether they can help individuals emerge from the pandemic to better opportunities — continues to be a challenge.

In a recent webinar discussion about new Strada research into the value of nondegree credentials, expert panelists offered insights into what education providers, employers, and policymakers should know now about nondegree credentials:

  • Combining credentials with a bachelor’s or associate degree might be a norm of the future. Seventy percent of those who had both an associate degree and a nondegree credential said their education made them an attractive job candidate, compared to 43 percent of associate degree holders without a nondegree credential.
  • The timeline for completing nondegree credentials is less rigid and is changing the landscape of postsecondary education. High school students often graduate with credentials; midcareer workers seek them, too.
  • For guidance on how to effectively deploy and stack nondegree credentials, education providers, policymakers, and employers might need to look beyond the United States. Countries such as New Zealand and Canada are leading the way, the experts said.
  • In the absence of an existing system from education providers, employers are starting to do the work of standardizing credentials and making them transferable.

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