How Can We Improve Learner Mobility?

This blog is part of the Connecting Credentials Fall Blog Series leading up to the fall release of the five individual work group reports, the updated Action Plan and the first State of Credentialing Report. This is a snapshot of the findings that will be issued by the Learner Mobility workgroup.

Postsecondary credentials include many types of short-term credentials such as certificates, badges, certifications, and other forms of micro-credentials. These credentials are valued in the labor market because they can be obtained quickly and enable individuals to enter employment quickly with necessary skills. Short-term credentials, however, should not mark the end of educational attainment. They should instead be stackable credentials aligned with higher levels of educational attainment and career advancement.

How do we create a culture and structure of postsecondary education and training that integrates short-term credentials as part of career pathways? How do we also integrate learning that may not have been recognized with a credential, but should also provide a stepping stone to continued advancement? These are a few of the questions addressed by the Learner Mobility Workgroup of Connecting Credentials.

The report of the Learner Mobility workgroup identifies actions that states, institutions, and federal policymakers can take to:

  1. Educate employers, students and educators on the importance of short-term credentials in the credentialing marketplace.
  2. Increase the value of learning represented by short-term credentials in education, to increase learners’ access to further learning.
  3. Expand use of performance or competency-based approaches in credentialing.
  4. Use federal policy to support learner mobility and pathways that extend from the attainment of short-term credentials through associate degrees and beyond.

Specific actions include: Improve data collection on the educational and labor market outcomes of short-term credit-bearing and noncredit programs and students in these programs; align short-term noncredit education with credit-bearing longer-term programs of study to facilitate learner progression and eliminate dead ends; allow greater flexibility and more experimentation in using competency based education; and extend eligibility for Higher Education Act Title IV financial aid to students in short-term training programs.

By taking actions such as these, the workgroup finds that states, institutions, and federal policymakers can advance a postsecondary culture that enhances the mobility of learners.

By Bryan Wilson, Director
Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Co-chair, Learner Mobility Work Group

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