New Workforce Development Program Allows Upskilling Students to Earn College Credit

As credentials, microcredentials and everything in between become more embraced by HigherEd, we advocate using this additional revenue stream as a way to grow four-year degree pipeline. Research shows that 40% students who earn a certificate or credential go on to earn a degree.

In addition to picking up valuable certifications, students can work toward undergraduate or graduate degrees through CDW’s partnership with Excelsior University.

by Sharon Jumper

The enrollment crisis in higher education shows few signs of waning.

Undergraduate college enrollment fell a staggering 8 percent between 2019 and 2022, according to a report in March from The Associated Press, which said that blaming the dip solely on the COVID-19 pandemic was a mistake. Students are questioning the value of expensive college tuition and the wisdom of incurring years of student debt. They are also wondering whether a degree is even needed to stand out in a labor market that continues to suffer from a lack of available workers.

The answer to each of those questions is often no, particularly in fields that have critical shortages, such as IT and cybersecurity.

In response to both declining enrollment and the emerging opportunities in the workforce, some higher education institutions have turned to new sources of enrollees: adult learners looking to finish a once-abandoned college journey or those already in the workforce who need additional training to take the next step in their careers. Excelsior University has long been a leader in higher education for nontraditional students and has partnered with CDW to help people quickly develop the skills and competencies needed to fill workforce gaps in IT and cybersecurity.

Microcredential and certificate programs were first popularized by online colleges but have been adopted by traditional universities, which are responding to a more competitive education market by delivering innovative programs that are in demand and doing so in more flexible learning modalities that students want.

Accelerated professional education courses, including the ones offered by CDW Workforce Development, primarily target people looking to enhance their careers, refresh their skills or transition to higher-paying jobs in cybersecurity. The courses are taught by practicing experts in their IT fields and cover a broad swath of the IT and cybersecurity spectrum, from foundational to advanced skills, as well as training on vendor-specific tools and systems. The courses are updated constantly, using input from instructors who are actively practicing in the field to keep the course material on the cutting edge.

The one thing all of these credential programs have not been able to offer students is a path to a college degree. However, that is no longer the case.

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