Micro-Credentialing in Education Could Lead to Big Job Opportunities

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Cybercrime and online terrorism are among the greatest threats facing our nation. Just recently, hackers took down some of the world’s largest websites in a massive denial-of-service attack that swamped the Internet in large sections of the country.

As someone deeply involved in education policy, I have to ask: Why aren’t more students entering cyber security training programs? More than 200,000 cyber security positions presently are unfilled in the U.S.; employment ads in the field have increased by almost 75 percent in five years; entry-level jobs have become particularly difficult to fill.

Unfortunately, the cost for private training certifications often is too high. And this has lead to employment deficiencies in many areas, most notably, perhaps, in cyber security.

The expansion of micro-credentialing could cut the expense. Micro-credentials are proofs of competency showing that a skill has been mastered, and linking to a graduate’s online portfolio to show hands-on talent.

Healthcare, technology, construction, manufacturing and engineering have similar needs and could also benefit from micro-credentials. So-called “middle-skill” jobs in these fields make up almost half of all jobs in Colorado. And, while they require education beyond high school, such as an industry credential, they don’t typically require an expensive four-year degree.

Locally, many organizations are experimenting with innovative approaches to address the problem.

In the St. Vrain Valley School District, for example, students can earn Apple certifications to repair the company’s products. And P-TECH schools in Adams 12, St. Vrain, and Falcon 49 school districts are offering industry credentials and an associate’s degree for students who are still in high school.

The Colorado Legislature also approved a pilot program that rewards school districts when students earn an in-demand industry credential or participate in a high-quality on-the-job training program.

The piece originally appeared in the Denver Business Journal. To read the entire piece, click here. 

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