Brookings Institution Examines Value of Postsecondary Credentials
A new blog published by the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy reinforces the need for close ties between postsecondary credentials, such as those attained through short-term certificate programs, with local labor market needs to ensure that students derive value from their education. As decision makers develop new policy supports for students pursuing short-term credentials, it is important that corresponding emphasis is placed on increasing clarity for students regarding which credentials communicate value to future employers, as well as building relationships between postsecondary institutions and local industries.
This topic is increasingly critical for education stakeholders and policymakers as the number of short-term certificates awarded overall increased by 157 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Research cited in the blog notes that not all short-term certificate programs result in returns to student earnings, and that many credentials and certificates are not recognized by employers in the corresponding field – thereby diminishing the credential’s value for students. To ensure that these opportunities provide maximum returns to students, institutions should work with industry to develop programs leading to industry-recognized credentials and certificates that are stackable throughout a student’s career, as well as to design programs that are closely tied to labor market needs.