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CAEL Pathways Blog

CAEL Member Matters for January 2021

A Monthly Lookback at Some of the Good Work in the CAEL Community


The University of North Carolina System is awarding grants aimed at boosting equity in digitally engaging adult learners. The grants include collaboration among the system's five historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The lead investigator of the project noted that adult learners (ages 25+) comprise about 20 percent of enrollment at the system HBCUs (Triad Business Journal).

Although occupational variables are also a factor, there are many studies that demonstrate a general link between postsecondary degrees and lifetime individual earnings. One by the Selig Center for Economic Growth focuses on the economic impact of a postsecondary degree at Dalton State College. Finding that a bachelor's degree from the college is worth an average of $1.2 million more in lifetime earnings versus a high school diploma, it also calculated the expected payroll premium of the college's 2019 graduates. Including certificate, associate, and bachelor's completers, the cohort will earn $640 million more in wages over the next 40 years compared to what they would have earned with only high school credentials. On a regional level, Dalton State creates an economic impact of $138 million (Daily Citizen-News).

Considering earnings premiums are associated with college completion at various increments, including associate degrees, degree reclamation is an important tactic in serving adult learners. Florida Gulf Coast University is reaching out to students who transferred there from Florida SouthWestern State College without first completing an associate degree. The reverse-transfer process awards eligible students an associate degree without any additional investment of time or money (Naples Daily News).

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh has created an innovative link between learning and work. It is offering a $500 tuition credit to nursing students who contribute in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic (WLUK). Meanwhile, the College of St. Scholastica's accelerated options are providing key support to the healthcare pipeline during a time of intense demand (KQDS).

Completion rates for community college students are under 40 percent. Black and Hispanic students face even greater obstacles, with completion rates of 28.8 and 37.1 percent, respectively. According to The Miami Times, Miami Dade College, Florida International University, and the University of Puerto Rico will be benefiting from a $1 million grant from Bank of America aimed at improving these rates and connecting more students to work-relevant education. 

Speaking of education-employment pathways, Lorain County Community College is offering faster - and no-cost - ways to traverse them. Students can complete most of these certificate programs in four months or less. Upon doing so, they receive a credential recognized by industry as well as support with job searching, including connections to hiring employers (The Morning Journal).

Texas A&M University-Texarkana is also among the institutions increasing access to career-supporting education in the wake of the pandemic. It is offering a 50 percent grant in several workforce areas to anyone struggling because of COVID-19 (Texarkana Gazette).

With a focus on boosting employment of underrepresented workers in engineering and science occupations, Kennesaw State University is using a partnership with Robins Air Force Base to increase opportunities for students to include real-world experience in their postsecondary education (Metro Atlanta CEO).

With companies predicting that 40 percent of workers will need to reskill in a program of six months or less, it's not surprising that interest in short-term credentials is rising. Dixie State University is among institutions increasing flexibility for returning adult learners, and more than 40 certificate programs join the resources it is offering them (St. George News).

Adult learners return to education from many different experiences. Working with the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department, Rock Valley College has launched a program for eligible inmates. The program focuses on manufacturing and technology skills as well as job hunting (WTVO).

Around one quarter of undergraduate students are parents. But what about grandparent students? A grandmother-granddaughter graduating tandem made for an inspiring national news story at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (CBS).

Competency-based programs help learners apply diverse learning experiences, like skills gained in the world of work, toward degree completion. Through a grant from the Greater Texas Foundation, Texas A&M University-Commerce will be launching two such programs and adding to personnel who support adult learners (North Texas e-News).

Partnering with businesses is another mainstay in productive alignments between postsecondary institutions and 'the world of work.' The president of Middle Georgia State University offers his perspective on the importance of working with regional employers in this video (Middle Georgia CEO).

In another meeting of classroom and work experiences, Joliet Junior College and Suncast Corporation are using the college's registered apprenticeship program to help meet talent needs in advanced manufacturing (Industry Today).

And Central Washington University, along with Renton Technical College, have partnered to offer adult learners the opportunity to apply apprenticeship and work experience toward a bachelor's degree. The program is aimed at employees in building and construction and at helping adults to remain in their profession while pursuing career-advancing education (Yakima Herald-Republic).

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