Job certificates raise earnings

More than 50 million U.S. adults, or one in four, have earned a vocational certificate or license, according to a new Census report on alternative credentials. For workers with less than a bachelor’s degrees, certificates and licenses provide an “earnings premium.”

Is our college students learning?

A college degree is supposed to signify mastery of a discipline, but testing firms see a window of opportunity for measures of college learning to help graduates in the job market, reports Inside Higher Ed.

. . .  skills assessments are related to potential higher education “disruptions” like competency-based education or even digital badging. They offer portable ways for students to show what they know and what they can do. And in this case, they’re verified by testing giants.

“This is how competencies could become the currency of the land instead of the credit hour,” said Michelle Rhee-Weise, a senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a think tank with a focus on education and health care.

(Rhee-Weise is no relation to the ex-D.C. schools chief.)

The Collegiate Learning Assessment is being upgraded this year to include a work readiness component and more student-level data.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) introduced two new electronic certificates for student learning, reports Inside Higher Ed. ACT Inc. offers WorkKeys skills assessment.

Americans spend over $460 billion on higher education every year, but what are college students learning?  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is trying to develop the Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes  (AHELO) to assess college students’ learning, reports Ed Week. The AHELO would be a “direct evaluation of student performance at the global level…across diverse cultures, languages and different types of institutions.”

4-year degree isn’t the only path to success

Too many Americans believe a young person who doesn’t earn a bachelor’s degree is a “second-class citizen,” says Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican. “Let’s quit preaching to them that their only path to success is a four-year degree.”

Vocational certificates are growing in popularity, especially those that require a semester or two of community college. “The certificate is a good choice for the low-middle of the high-school graduation class,” said Stephen Rose, a Georgetown professor.

Little college aid for job seekers

Federal college aid overwhelmingly goes to students pursuing degrees, while many seeking vocational certificates don’t qualify for aid. Taxpayers should support people who want to learn high-demand job skills — computer techs and nurse’s aides — not people who want to spend four years studying Shakespeare, argues a workforce researcher.

Students who earn credits for competency, not just “seat time,” will be eligible for federal student aid, if their college’s competency-based program is approved by accreditors.

IB adds career certificates

International Baccalaureate, known for challenging academic diplomas, will offer career certificates in subjects such as engineering, culinary arts, business and automotive technology.


What for-profit colleges do right

Two-year for-profit colleges do a good job graduating disadvantaged students with vocational certificates and associate degrees.

Community colleges are going online to provide job training.

Impossible dreams: Squash or support?

What should professors do when students’ goals are unrealistic? Squash their dreams? Or support the pursuit of the impossible?

As colleges collapse for lack of paying students, more young people will pursue certificates in vocational fields rather than academic degrees, a dean predicts.

27% of recent high school grads work full time

High school graduates are doing miserably in the job market, according to a Rutgers study, Left Out. Forgotten? Recent High School Graduates and the Great Recession. One third of 2006-11 graduates who aren’t full-time college students or graduates are jobless. Only 27 percent work full time at a median hourly wage of $9.25 an hour.

Many have lost hope they can get ahead through hard work, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It’s striking how severe young people’s problems are,” said Carl Van Horn, coauthor of the study and the director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers. “These are folks at the beginning of their work lives already feeling very pessimistic about themselves.”

Young high school graduates are competing for low-level jobs with college graduates who can’t find work that requires a degree, notes the Inquirer.

Employers typically seek more highly educated people, not because they have greater skills but because they are believed to be better workers, since they showed up for college courses and completed them, workforce experts say.

Some 37 percent of recession era graduates are unemployed, compared to 23 percent who graduated before the recession, the study found.

Many surveyed say they had planned to attend college when they started high school. But 40 percent say they could not afford the cost of full-time college; a further 30 percent say they need to work. And 10 percent say children or family members precluded chances at higher education. About 15 percent surveyed said they were not interested in college, and 5 percent said they did not need postsecondary education for what they wanted to do in life.

The Inquirer ‘s anecdotal people are a Penn State drop-out with a toddler, a part-time day care job and an unemployed boyfriend and a part-time Home Depot worker who wants to study computers but needs to work. I wish the paper had asked both if they’d considered taking community college classes to earn a certificate  in paralegal studies (the single mom once wanted to be a lawyer) or computer technology.

Job training for the ‘other half’

The “other half” of Americans — poor, jobless and isolated — desperately need access to job training at community colleges, a professor writes.

Also on Community College Spotlight: To prevent college dropouts, start more students in occupational certificate programs instead of general education.

Job prep becomes job one

Certificates or degrees? After pushing for more college degrees, President Obama has endorsed industry-designed certificates in manufacturing skills that will enable community college students to qualify for a job with decent pay in a year. That’s if they don’t need remedial math, reading or writing.

Also on Community College Spotlight: New York City’s P-TECH will run from ninth through “14th grade.” Graduates, who will earn a high school diploma and an associate degree in applied science, will be prepared for IT jobs at IBM or transfer to a four-year university.

Detroit-area students interested in health careers can choose a five-year high school affiliated with a community college and a health center: They graduate with high school diploma, an associate degree in science and clinical experience.