Credentials for the Future Initiative - University of Texas System

Overview

In March 2021, The University of Texas System (UT) launched the Texas Credentials for the Future initiative  with assistance from a Strada Education Foundation grant. This work is enabling UT institutions to expand their educational offerings to include more employer-initiated and validated microcredential programs that can arm learners with skills, knowledge, and competencies valued by employers. Pairing a bachelor’s degree with an industry-recognized credential (certification), for example, is expected to give students a competitive edge in the labor market while enhancing their overall undergraduate experience.

In January 2023, the UT System received a Phase 2 grant through Strada Education Foundation 's Beyond Completion Challenge to infuse career readiness into the undergraduate curriculum and co-curriculum by including relevant industry microcredentials and skills badges at no additional cost to learners. The program focuses on college majors associated with low earnings while expanding efforts to include other majors in which significant post-graduation earnings disparities exist.

In August 2023, The UT System and Coursera (online learning platform and pioneer of Massive Open Online Courses - MOOCS) launched a large-scale, industry-recognized microcredential program. Through this partnership, every student, faculty, and staff (and alumni) across all nine universities in the UT System will gain access to Coursera’s Career Academy at no additional cost to them. Through this partnership, more than 35 industry microcredentials from companies such as IBM, Google, Microsoft, Meta, and Salesforce will become available to eligible participants. Participating campuses include UT Austin, UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso, UT Permian Basin, UT Rio Grande Valley, UT San Antonio, Stephen F. Austin State University, and UT Tyler.

In 2022, the UT System joined the national Credential As You Go Network in response to an RFP supported by a Walmart grant to Credential As You Go. The initiative is leading a movement to develop a nationally adopted incremental credentialing system that improves education and employment outcomes for all learners.

The UT System also partners with Workcred to explore how undergraduate students majoring in humanities and liberal arts could earn a data analytics microcredential plus bachelor’s degree, potentially increasing their employment opportunities and earnings outcomes. Faculty and administrators from University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Texas at Tyler, University of Texas at San Antonio, and University of Texas at Arlington formed a consortium at a September 2022 workshop and worked together to plan how to integrate microcredentials that signify data analytics knowledge and skills most valued by employers. The process included determining if there were existing employer credentials (certificates or certifications) that could be aligned or integrated into undergraduate experiences, or if the best solution would be to have faculty develop new microcredentials with input from industry subject matter experts.

The UT System/Workcred partnership resulted in Integrating Microcredentials into Undergraduate Experiences (Workcred, 2023).

The report includes:

  • overview of microcredentials
  • factors to consider when building or selecting a microcredential
  • relationship between microcrentials and badges
  • promising microcredential practices in digital skills and data analytics
  • commonly identified skills in liberal arts and data analytics
  • approaches to align data analytics microcredentials with undergraduate experiences
  • framework to guide the development and implementation of microcredentials
  • assets to support microcredentialing efforts in the UT System

Partners

9 University of Texas institutions, Coursera, Workcred, Credential As You Go

Funder

Strada Education Foundation

Resources

https://credentialasyougo.org/

Integrating Microcredentials into Undergraduate Experiences - https://share.ansi.org/wc/Shared%20Documents/Workcred-Reports/ Integrating-Microcredentials-into-Undergraduate-Experiences.pdf

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