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Different Noncredit Stages: A View of Noncredit Training Certificate Stakeholders in Two Different States



A white paper from the National Council for Continuing Education & Training giving insight into models of noncredit training program development and implementation.
With the continuous rise of college expenses and
increased demand for quality by its students, higher
education institutions are experiencing more pressure
than ever to meet the demands of all their stakeholders.
Especially within the community college arena, these
institutions are forced to become agile and adaptable to
meet the needs of the local workforce training and
development opportunities. In order to meet these local
workforce needs, many community colleges have
designed and implemented short-term certificates that
address the specific industry needs. In fact, according to
the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)
conducted by the United States Census Bureau,
approximately 25 percent of adults in the United States
have either a professional certification, license, or
educational certificate (United States Census Bureau,
2014). Within this segment of the population,
employment trends illustrate that these credentials have
labor market value especially for those who do not hold
a postsecondary degree. Given the increasing labor
impact that training certificates in particular are having
on employment opportunities, there has been increased
Executive Summary
With the continuous changes and needs of local employers, community colleges are experiencing an increased
urgency from industry to produce effectively trained employees. While traditionally these training programs have been
through credit bearing programs, there has been an exponential increase in the development and implementation of
noncredit training programs to quickly accommodate workforce demands as well as provide students with increased
employability opportunities. With a national demand to fill 30 million jobs requiring postsecondary education (Mullins,
2011), community colleges in collaboration with educational policymakers and industry have taken charge to meet this
employment demand through such mechanisms as noncredit vocational training. Despite the increased emphasis on
noncredit training programs at the community college level, there is a dearth of research into how these noncredit
training certificates affect students in terms of employment opportunities, academic persistence and success, and overall
program component effectiveness.
In order to add to the higher education research literature, this paper attempts to provide insights into two
different models of noncredit training program development and implementation. By investigating the state of Oregon
and Maryland, this research analyzes the issues faced in developing a noncredit training initiative (Oregon) and the
characteristics of a more advanced noncredit training initiative (Maryland). Utilizing a case study framework, this paper
investigates noncredit training perspectives at the state, institutional, student, and employer level to gain a more
comprehensive understanding of the noncredit training experience. Based upon this study’s findings, it outlines possible
recommendations in addressing noncredit program effectiveness, student development, and employment needs.
Workforce Spotlight Report
December 2015
Different Noncredit Stages: A View of Noncredit Training
Certificate Stakeholders in Two Different States
interest in enrolling in training certificate programs. In
fact, the enrollment within these certificate programs
continues to increase as nearly one million certificates
were issued to students in the academic year 2012-201
(Kena et al., 2015). With certificates ranging from
massage therapy to network security specialists, these
postsecondary credentials have generated significant
traction growing from over 300,000 certificates issued
on 1994 to approximately 1 million in 2010 (Carnevale,
Jayasundra, & Hanson, 2012).
Specifically, important within these community
college certificate programs, the noncredit training
programs have continued to becomes a viable solution
for workforce training as well as possible gateway access
to further postsecondary achievement. According to the
National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES)
(1998, 2003), the enrollment in noncredit programs
increased by 18 percent in a three-year period with an
emphasis in vocational and workforce training (Van Noy
& Jacobs, 2009). Given that most of this growth was
illustrated in two-year degree granting institutions,
community colleges continue to address this workforce
need and as a result in the 1999, 41 percent of these
Page 2 | Different Noncredit Stages
institutions offered noncredit occupational programs (Xu & Ran, 2015). As these noncredit programs continue to
grow and continue to grow and become recognized by industry standards, community college stakeholders are
interested in the viability of these noncredit training certificates as the new postsecondary credential. Given the
scant amount of data and research on noncredit training, educational researchers continue to attempt to discover
the impact that these noncredit certificates have on not only occupational opportunities but also academic
outcomes and progress. Despite most research focusing on qualitative analyzes especially interviews of college
administrators of noncredit training certificates, Xu and Ran (2015) provide a seminal investigation into noncredit
certificates by developing a more systemized approach to understanding their impact. In their study of nine
community colleges, the researchers discovered that the student population in noncredit certificates is similar to
those credit certificate students and that the academic progress and success is largely determined by academic and
financial support measures at the institution. By exploring transcript and student and college demographic
information, Xu and Ran (2015) provide valuable insights into a potential information foundation for a national
database of noncredit training program components.
In the areas of workforce credentials, it is important to understand the differences between two main
credentials: certificates and certifications. While there is often confusion between these two, the main difference
between a certificate and an industry specific certification is that certifications are based upon test performance,
certificates are issued based upon seat time in a classroom or online environment (Carnevale, Rose, & Hanson,
2012). For the purpose of this paper, we focused on training certificates rather than industry-specific certifications.
In this research study, we attempt to investigate the various state and institutional pathways that higher
education decision-makers and institutions have addressed workforce development issues through the
development and implementation of noncredit certificate programs. First, we provide an overview of the national
and state level trends of noncredit certificates. Next, we highlight the programs and lessons learned at a state,
institutional, employer, and student level in the state of Maryland and specifically at the Community College of
Baltimore County. Then, we address the Oregon developmental and implementation process of allowing Oregon
community colleges to issue noncredit certificates. Finally, this paper provides recommendations for further
research and training certificates program components that can assist in the student experience as well as address
workforce needs. Although much of the sparse research on noncredit training certificates is based on “anecdotal”
information, this study attempts to build on the noncredit training research literature by understanding multiple
stakeholders’ views (state, institutional, student, and employer) in different educational landscapes. By
understanding the developmental process of noncredit training programs (state of Oregon) as well as the
experience of noncredit training programs (state of Maryland), we hope to offer insights as to the preparation of
students for the workforce as well as investigate ways to provide training opportunities for student and employers
to ensure student success and employer satisfaction.
Contributing authors from the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida:
Timothy J. Wilson, PhD, Policy Analyst
Xiaodan Hu, Doctoral Candidate
Trevor J. Thompson, Doctoral Student
Review of the Training Certificate Literature
Community colleges are increasingly being called upon “to partner with other educational institutions,
government agencies, and employers to craft regional approaches to create new forms of economic, social, and
human capital” (Bers, 2013; Phelps, 2012). According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 40
percent of those enrolled in community colleges in 2011 were studying in noncredit programs (Ryder &
Hagedorn, 2012). Despite this fact, noncredit educational programs are often overlooked when compared to their
credentialed counterparts (Arena, 2013). A typical differentiator between noncredit and credit programs is that
noncredit courses typically do not award diplomas, certificates or degree credentials, whereas credentialed
programs typically do offer a specific credentialing (Kortesoja, 2009). These noncredit courses can offer a number
of benefits including employability, flexibility, and lower costs to students (Arena, 2013). Noncredit training
programs at community colleges may “serve an important role in creating a bridge for unlikely or underserved
students to higher educational pathways” (Ozmun, 2012, p. 9). These noncredit training programs can enable
those who are unable to complete an entire degree program due to financial constraints, prior educational
limitations or any other number of limitations, to receive specialized training culminating in better paying jobs.
Fouts and Mallory (2010) emphasized that economic advancement occurs when higher education,
government and industry work together (Arena, 2013). The role of noncredit educational programs is to positively
impact the lives of many people, to create and save jobs, and to help increase the number of educated people in a
community (Baker, 2013; Milam, 2005). In realizing this, Xavier University pioneered a program (“The Business
Profession”) so that students would have the ability to acquire necessary workforce skills to make themselves
more marketable in the job market (Clark, 2005).
The trend in government has been to encourage the link between the college curricula and vocational
educational programs for adults in order to promote economic development and to inspire competition in a
growing global economy (Kortesoja, 2009). Many municipalities are using noncredit programs to prepare low-
income individuals for viable jobs in the workforce (Jacobs, 2001). Funding for noncredit workforce education is
often an indicator to which direction a state is envisioning the direction for community college and other short-
term training programs (Van Noy & Jacobs, 2009). State general funds are funds that are set up by the state
directly to the community college and that can be applied directly to noncredit workforce development programs
(Van Noy & Jacobs, 2009; Warford, 2002). Despite limited state funding, noncredit programs still face the
challenges of inadequate funding, low status, and adequate articulation agreements between accredited programs
(Grubb, Badway, & Bell, 2003).
Eleven states, including the state of Maryland, use contact hours as their primary source for determining
the appropriate allocations for each program (Van Noy & Jacobs, 2009). Contact hours are stated to be one of
the most reliable allocation measures. Maryland also implemented a program aimed to promote college
completion rates in 2004 (Clagett, 2013). In implementing this program, they created what was known as the
Maryland Model (Clagett, 2013). The Maryland Model tracks students’ success rates of transfer students, including
those who transfer across state lines (Clagett, 2013). This creates an interesting prototype for other schools to
mirror as they explore the benefits of creating noncredit educational programs. In order for any training program
to be effective and scalable, it is important to combine customized student support services with a platform to
track student education patterns and experiences. In addition, it is key to have all higher educational professionals
(state and institutional level) and industry involved in developing and implementing policy for these noncredit
training programs (Phoenix, 2003). According to Fainholc (2010), “higher education should become the leading
space for critical processes in order to guarantee the development of highly reflexive, innovative societies with the
capacity to respond to the critical environments that prevail in the citizen scenarios of the new times.” Noncredit
coursework in higher education has the potential to help bridge the gap between high school and the specialized
workforce as well as address the “new time” that our postsecondary students are facing.
National Trend of Noncredit Certificates and Student Outcomes
In 2012-13 academic year, about 967,000 certificates were conferred by all institutions. The certificates
below the associate’s degree level awarded increased by 49 percent during the ten-year period between 2002-03
and 2012-13 (Kena, et al., 2015). In terms of the overall population of certificate holders, the Survey of Income
A View of Noncredit Training Certificate Stakeholders in Two Different States | Page 3
Page 4 | Different Noncredit Stages
and Program Participation (SIPP) in 2009 indicated that 12
percent of the United States labor force had a certificate
(see Figure 1).
Figure 1. United State Percentage of Credential Holders
In addition to the growth of overall certificate
issuance, noncredit certificates have been gaining traction.
Currently, over 10 percent of community college courses
were offered in a career and technical area as noncredit
courses or programs (Cronen & Murphy, 2013). In fact,
the noncredit student headcount has exceeded for-credit
students (Xu & Ran, 2015). Among these noncredit
students, about eight percent indicated in the beginning of
the program that they aimed to earn a certificate. This
point of view is also supported by Ozmum (2012) that in
addition to obtaining skills, “noncredit workforce
education students are adamant in their desire to procure
some sort of certification for their training, be it a national
credential or local one” (p. 16).
Some state-level agencies responded to this need
by allowing two-year public institutions to grant noncredit
certificates. A recent survey of NCCET members revealed
that most states currently offer noncredit certificates at
two-year public institutions (The OAR, 2014).
Additionally, majority of community colleges viewed
noncredit courses and programs as important or very
important to their missions (Xu & Ran, 2015). Part of the
reason is that local industries and communities have
expressed such a need of skilled workforce in specific
training areas (Carnevale, Rose, & Hanson, 2012). Most
noncredit students aim to increase their job marketability,
and upgrade their working skills to adapt to the changing
business landscape. To address specific workforce needs,
community colleges offer certificate programs in the most
common local employer !
needs. According to SIPP, the most common
certificate fields include: auto mechanics,
construction trades, computer and information
services, transportation and materials moving,
business and office management, and healthcare.
More importantly, many community colleges
offer noncredit certificate to serve its mission by
benefiting students. Xu and Ran’s (2015) study
indicated that noncredit students tend to be low-
performing and low-income adult learners. Thus, the
flexibility in course schedule, delivery format, and
cost of noncredit courses could serve as a plausible
approach for these learners to access postsecondary
education. For completers, certificates created
financial returns of around $300 per quarter for
completers, especially for certificates in vocational
fields for male and health fields for female (Jepsen,
Troske, & Coomes, 2014). Admittedly, not all
noncredit students enrolled in the program with an
identified goal in mind. Ozmum (2012) indicated
that students who enrolled in noncredit workforce
education programs typically had completed high
school and held positive views of education in
general. Ozmum (2012) further indicated that the
college environment itself contributed positively to
the students’ educational self-efficacy, and noncredit
workforce education could encourage students
toward higher educational aspirations.
Among the state initiatives, the Academic
Senate for California Community Colleges published
a paper in 2006, introducing noncredit instruction,
surveying the status of noncredit courses statewide,
and articulating the value of noncredit programs. In
passing SB361 in Fall 2006, the California
Legislature made funding possible for noncredit
courses, and curriculum regulations in Title Five
further changed to permit granting certificates for
noncredit programs. With the wide range of
noncredit programs and certificates available in
California community colleges, a crucial bridge was
built for students to gain confidence in their abilities
toward their future in higher education and high-
skill, high-wage employment (The Academic Senate
for California Community Colleges, 2009). One
feature of noncredit program development is that
the existence of policies for program development
and funding mechanisms vary greatly by the states
(Oleksiw, Kremidas, Johnson-Lewis, & Lekes, 2007).
Given the lack of a national data and rigorous
research on noncredit certificates, Voorhees and Milam (2005) described this non-traditional pathway of the
noncredit certificate as the “hidden college.” As a “hidden college” that can constitute a majority of the student
head count in community colleges, it is vital to understand both the student patterns in these programs as well as
ways to foster continued student support.
In order to understand a comprehensive view of the various state, institutional, student, and employer
stakeholders in the noncredit training process, we utilize a sociological descriptive lens for policy and program
implementation, the interpretive case study framework (Dobson, 1999), to guide our research inquiry. According
to Yin (1999), the overall case study perspective allows for the research to engage in “an empirical enquiry that
investigates a contemporary phenomenon within it real life context” (p. 13). Since the goal is it understand the
phenomena of noncredit training certificates from various perspectives, a case study framework allows for an in-
depth analysis while allowing for representation of similar results from previous research literature.
A key ingredient within the case study perspective is the attempt of the researcher to remove themselves
from research in order to allow the story to reveal itself. Narrowing down with the case study perspective, we
implore an interpretive case study framework which allows for a more flexible approach to theory development
(Dobson, 1999). As Walsham (1993) described the interpretive case study approach, it holds that “no correct and
incorrect theories but there are interesting and less interesting ways to view the world” (p. 6). By allowing
flexibility, an interpretivist case study framework fosters an environment to comprehend complex social situations
and phenomena (Dobson, 1999).
Building upon the interpretive case study framework, our study utilized semi structured interviews and
document review and analysis to discover emerging themes regarding the phenomenon of noncredit training
certificates. In analyzing the gathered results, interpreter, data, and methodological triangulation were conducted to
ensure valid analysis of the data. In the area of interpreter triangulation, the research team utilized similar
qualitative methods and compared data to determine emerging themes. Data and methodological triangulation
were ensured through data comparison and item coding of interview and document review assessments to guide
data analysis. By examining the different state, institutional, employer and student perspectives of training
certificates, our research provides a model to address and provide recommendations that can assist in workforce
training and student achievement.
Maryland: A Trailblazer of Community College Noncredit Training Certificates
The State of Maryland has been a leader in issuing noncredit certificates at the community college level.
Specifically, the current study examines the noncredit programs from state, institutional, employer, and student
level. While the state level agencies in Maryland have been supportive in authorization of community colleges
granting noncredit certificates, the community colleges put emphasis on program development and student
learning. So far, these programs are well received by potential employers and students. It presents an interesting
dynamic where insightful observations can be made and used as a prototypical model for noncredit coursework
development in the future.
State Perspective: Maryland Community College Association
In Maryland, the Continuing Education Programs are developed and approved at the college level, instead
of being sent to the state for approval. However, for each individual course which consists the programs, the state
is in authorization of approving non-Carnegie-Unit-based courses. These noncredit courses should meet the
criteria of not being for recreational purposes. Fortunately, the political support at the state level has been strong
that the state is able to fund the noncredit programs. These non-Carnegie-Unit education was funded under the
same formula used for Carnegie-Unit (for-credit) education. According to “the Cade Formula,” 30 credits or 360
clock-hours for non-Carnegie unit equals to one full-time equivalent (FTE). Besides state funding, community
colleges in Maryland also receive funding from tuition and fees, as well as from their counties. However, one
persisting issue is that funding is not sufficient to cover financial aid for noncredit students, unless the programs
exceed 600 hours long, which is rare.
A View of Noncredit Training Certificate Stakeholders in Two Different States | Page 5
Page 6 | Different Noncredit Stages
For the program completers at community
colleges, most stay in local communities within the
state. A key Maryland community college
administrator indicated that more skilled workers
could attract business to the state and help existing
businesses grow. She also indicated that the key to
develop statewide noncredit programs is to build
programs based on actual local needs, because many
middle jobs only required more than high school
education, but less than three to six years of
postsecondary education. However, many of the
noncredit training programs and the new economy
needs are hindered by the structure and restrictions of
the current semester-hour and quarter-hour system.
The continuing education programs in Maryland are
building hour-based education and training that is
aligned with licensure, industry credentials, and local
employers’ needs. The individual course durations are
dependent upon the topics needed to acquire
workforce credentialing.
Finally, the noncredit certificate programs
provided community colleges with additional evidence
of educational outcomes. Some Maryland presidents
include the count of noncredit training certificates,
which are often related to license attainment or
industry credential attainment, as a part of their
completion agenda. Maryland Community College
Association for Continuing Education and Training
has been charged to assist the college presidents to
develop a more formalized method of including the
noncredit program completers, in order to better
measure and recognize the outcomes.
Institution Perspective: The Community
College of Baltimore County
The noncredit certificate programs at the
Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC)
started with the Health Industry, meeting the
workforce needs in local communities. During the
years, there are about 220 noncredit programs,
offering 15,000 certificates annually. These credentials
largely focus on middle-level jobs that require some
formal training beyond high school graduation.
Graduates from the noncredit programs were
equipped with the skillset in specific areas, such as
business and management, computers and information
technology, and health and human services.
Understanding the needs from both students and
potential employers, the noncredit programs at CCBC
connected its programs to the Occupational
Information Network (O*NET), which is sponsored
by the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and
Training Administration. As the primary source of
occupational information in the nation, O*NET
identified “Bright Outlook” occupations that are
expected to grow rapidly with large numbers of new
job openings in the next several years. Currently, over
ten CCBC programs are targeted at the “Bright
Outlook” occupations, proactively offering students
with promising career opportunities, as well as
qualified workforce for the growing industry.
Moreover, the noncredit certificate programs
at CCBC are devoted to support students. One
strategy is direct financial assistance. Besides Pell
Grants eligible noncredit programs approved by the
U.S. Department of Education, an experimental Pell
Program was offered to students in selected noncredit
programs that are shorter than 600 hours. Institutional
grants and scholarships are also available to support
student enrollment, persistence, and completion. The
second strategy CCBC utilizes is to offer students with
access to a Continuing Education academic record,
outlining date, courses titles, contact hours, and other
student information. This record issued by the
institution help students to better track their
coursework and to increase motivation. This academic
transcript also helped potential employers to better
understand the noncredit course content, providing
rigor and credibility of the postsecondary training.
Employer Perspective: Maryland
Noncredit Training Programs
Based upon interviews with Maryland
employers, several themes emerged regarding the view
of noncredit training certificates within their industry,
student training preparation, and collaboration with
the local community colleges. In terms of the
perspectives of training certificates, one Maryland
employer indicated those students who have enrolled
and participated in a noncredit training certificate are
more prepared for the workplace and that the students
seriously consider the need to be an “effective
employee.” Though the employers stated that many
are new hires and the job performance is still being
evaluated, they felt that these individuals were able to
communicate their industry knowledge. Not only did
employers find that training certificate provided the
direct job skills needed, but employers also felt that
these programs fostered a clearer vision of career
direction. For example, one employer indicated that a
key aspect of students who have finished a noncredit
training certificate is their ability to more effectively
communicate their career aspirations. Given that this particular employer works with individuals who have been
previously incarnated or suffer from chronic unemployment, it is important for these individuals to establish a
sense of self-efficacy and motivation that allows them to proceed toward further career empowerment.
Employers indicated that student preparation for the job skills has been effective. These employers
recognized the value of having a certificate over another unfamiliar credential (for example, recognition award).
By gaining a certificate in their noncredit training, the employers held that the curriculum and assessment implied
more “rigor” and “verification” that offered more attractive opportunities to the potential hire. However,
employers expressed that a noncredit training certificate provided entry level opportunities but that further
training and education could provide more employment mobility. Although employers did not indicate
specifically as to the specific type of postsecondary credential needed for more advanced employment
opportunities, the advanced skills they implied such as critical thinking, problem solving, and management skills
could be embedded within a credit bearing credential.
Finally, in terms of collaboration with the local community college, employers felt that collaboration
between the college and company has been effective overall. The colleges have approached the local employers
to discuss training needs such as the Apartment Maintenance Tech Program created at the Community College
of Baltimore County. The employers felt that community college training coordinator did an acceptable job of
following up, and they recommended that the collaboration between the training partners be more “structured”
and able to be assessed appropriately. Therefore, creating a structured communication and program assessment
plan could be a benefit to both assess and adapt training content.
Student Perspective: Maryland Noncredit Training Programs
Interviewing students within the Maryland noncredit training programs provided insightful feedback
regarding the student experience, preparation for employment, and possible adaptations to the training. One
recent graduate of the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) Accelerating Connections to
Employment (ACE) Program which prepares prepares students to become dental assistants over a six-month
period expressed the the classes were information and and engaging. In fact, similar to Maryland employers
which expressed that noncredit students had a better vision of the career objectives, this student believed that
the program “gave her a hope and gave her a path.” Based upon the completion of these noncredit training
programs, the student indicated the desire for further educational training especially in the dental field with the
aspirations of becoming a dental hygienist. Although the research literature is mixed as whether or not noncredit
training fosters further educational aspirations (Carnevale, Rose, & Hanson, 2012; Xu & Ran, 2015), most studies
indicate that training programs (credit or noncredit) that provide relevant support measures for students can
have a better chance of developing students with increased educational aspirations (Xu & Ran, 2015).
In addition to feeling better prepared for the workplace, a key draw to the noncredit training certificate
program was the lower cost factor. Similar to the national research that most students entering certificate
programs come from lower income backgrounds, students in the Maryland system expressed a concern about
their limited financial capability to pay for school as well as their aversion to debt. Given that the CCBC program
offered available grants to fully fund tuition and other school expenditures, financing for the program was a
considerable draw to the program as well as the ability to enter the job market at a quicker pace. In terms of the
overall student and program experience, the themes that emerged were that an internship would be extremely
helpful to the learning process. Especially for kinesthetic learning students, the ability to have a hands-on
experience could provide a more enhancement learning experience and provide these students with “just in-
time” training opportunities. In addition to an experiential learning component, another concern was the
compactness of the training content and the lack of time for content retention. With many certificate training
programs created for a short-term basis, it is difficult to extend content hours to allow for student reflection.
However, given that students vary in terms of learning pace, it could be beneficial that training programs
incorporate intentional remediation, review, and reflection activities to reinforce the training curriculum.
A View of Noncredit Training Certificate Stakeholders in Two Different States | Page 7
certificates to address local and regional workforce
issues. This workgroup which comprised of key
Oregon community college influencers from
Continuing Education, Community Education, Small
Business Development Centers, and Workforce &
Contracted Training Divisions proposed the legislative
changes to allow Oregon community college to issue
“training certificates”. In their proposal, the OAR
workgroup outlined the current research justification
and impact that the allowance of granting training
certificates at the community college level could have
on students and employers. Research and further
proposal information from the OAR workgroup can
be found in a white paper entitled, Noncredit Training
Certificate: Addendum to the Legislative Concept. Key
insights from interviews with various Oregon higher
education decision makers and their white paper
outline a story of program development and legislative
action that other institutions can replicate.
From the information from this white paper
and these semi-structured interviews, the story of the
Oregon noncredit training initiative began with
understanding the Oregon higher education landscape.
Originally, the Oregon higher education system
consisted of 17 independent community colleges that
were not under a shared governance system. The
noncredit side of the Oregon higher education system
fell under the Oregon Continuing Education
Association. However, a significant change in the
education landscape occurred with the implementation
of the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating
Commission, the development of the 40-40-20 by
2025 initiative, and the execution of the Credit
Pathway Certificate. Now with a more shared higher
education governance structure in the state of Oregon,
Oregon initiated a new education policy entitled the
initiative which outlined by 2025 that Oregon
“must ensure the 40% of adult Oregonians
have earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher, that
40% have earned an Associate’s degree or
postsecondary credential, and that the
remaining 20% or less earned a high school
diploma or its equivalent.”
Coupled with the higher education restructure and the
new education policy, the implementation of the
Credit Pathway Certificate of Completion (CPCC)
Program allowed Oregon to introduce the certificate
Page 8 | Different Noncredit Stages
Oregon: Beginning the Community College
Noncredit Training Certificate Model
As of May 2015, the state of Oregon has
legislated as title Legislative House Bill 2410-B the
allowance of community colleges of Oregon to issue
certificates for noncredit training. Previous to this
legislation, Oregon community colleges were only
permitted to grant recognition awards (“Certificates of
Completion”) to those students completing noncredit
training programs at their respective institutions. Laying
the foundation for this initiative, the state Oregon
developed and implemented the Career Pathway
Certificate of Completion (CPCC) and Less Than One
Year (LTOY) certificates in 2007. Based upon these
previous certificate programs, Oregon was able to gather
baseline information over the years. It was this baseline
data for certificate that fostered the foundation of
further evidence of the need and credibility for training
certificates in other Oregon Community College
programs. The justification for the pursuing this
initiative included a comprehensive analysis of the local,
regional, and state economic factors. The landscape of
Oregon consisted of 26.7 percent had a one-year
certificate or associate’s degree and 11.1 percent lacked a
high school diploma among adults over 25 in the year
2010. In addition, there was a considerable need to
provide workforce training at the community college
level especially within the rural Oregon area. In 2012,
Oregon only had 11 public community colleges and two
public four year institutions located in rural areas serving
40,000 students as compared 53 institutions serving
210,000 students.
Foundation of the Oregon Noncredit
Training Certificate
Developing from a grassroots movement of Oregon
community college faculty members, administrators, and
decision makers, legislation House Bill 2410-B emerged
from key, passionate stakeholders that realized the need
for training certificates at the community college system
in Oregon. In addition to understanding the workforce
and student need for training certificates, a shift in the
higher education landscape in Oregon fostered a
conducive climate for the possibility of shifting from an
award of recognition to a training certificate. In the
process of developing the noncredit training initiative,
Oregon developed a work group (entitled OAR
workgroup) to address the need for Oregon’s 17
community colleges to grant noncredit training
granting process to community colleges by offering credit-based learning for courses 12 to 44 hours that are
embedded within an Associate's degree. By ensuring the rigor of the Credit Pathway Certificate and their
counterpart Less Than One Year (LTOY) certificates, Oregon was able to build upon these programs to
propose the noncredit certificate.
Despite the success of these previous certificate programs, the noncredit training certificate in Oregon
faced many obstacles in the implementation process such as the need for a change in the state legislation and
the organization of volunteers to propose the change. With the hard work of a dedicated volunteers at the
community college and state level, the Oregon noncredit training certificate became a law in January 1, 2015.
With the passage of House Bill 2410-B, there several areas moving that can provide valuable insights for
educational administrators developing and executing a noncredit training program.
Employer Perspective: Oregon Noncredit Training
Since certificate training directly affects corresponding industry partners, it is vital to understand the
perspective that these employers have regarding training certificates. The perspective of the employment
industry in Oregon including those hiring potential students graduating from training programs and those
education specialists directly connected to the employers. From these interviews, several themes emerged
regarding the view of certificates in their specific industries and certificates affect on educational aspirations. In
terms of certificate perspectives, certificate recipients especially in the area of vocational rehabilitation and
occupational skills illustrated more proficient job skills and able to adapt to the work environment quickly. As
Oregon community colleges move to providing noncredit training certificates, it is vital ensure the continued
collaboration especially in terms of training curriculum between the workforce sector and the colleges. In fact,
in this analysis as well as in other research (Carnevale, Rose, & Hanson, 2012), employers indicated that have
an active role in the training curriculum provided for a more aligned and adaptable training experience.
In addition to ensuring a more active role for employer in the training development, community
colleges can provide a more relatable training experience that not only provides specific job training skills but
also can foster a more conducive environment for students to explore further training or educational options.
As for more tailored training opportunities, employers and employer specialist indicated the beneficial nature
of noncredit training certificates at rural community colleges. Given the large number of students without
access to an urban training program or a four-year degree granting institution, the rural community college
noncredit training experience provides a vital job training resource. Coupled with extending noncredit training
to rural job seekers, noncredit training certificate can provide a sense of self-efficacy for student to continue
their studies. Research illustrates that students who gain a postsecondary credential can not benefit from the
increase chances of employment but also from the increased psychological motivation to pursue further
academic achievement (Townsend, & Dever, 1999). In discussing with Oregon students who have finished
certificate granting programs, the anecdotal evidence indicated that several students expressed further
education aspirations toward more advanced credentials.
Next Steps: Oregon Noncredit Training Certificate
As Oregon commences with the issuing of certificates for certain community college programs, there
will be the need to to develop and implement these training programs as well as track student progress and
employment status as well as employer perspective as to the needs and effectiveness of the training. At the
institutional level, Lane Community College in Oregon is expecting to offer approximately six different training
programs and bundling some of these programs in order to provide students the necessary skills for
employment. Some of these bundling of programs consists of previously established programs (for example,
Pattern making and fashion design classes) as well as creating new programs that bundles course that thought
typically would not be expected to align well fit the local and regional workforce needs (for example, security
program and nursing assistance). While most of the training certificate programs offering training certificate
A View of Noncredit Training Certificate Stakeholders in Two Different States | Page 9
Page 10 | Different Noncredit Stages
will consist of modifying current programs, several institutions plan on developing and marketing new certificate
programs to address specific and local workforce needs. With the implementation beginning as soon as in the end
of the Fall semester of 2015, more data for evaluation of the program and policy effectiveness will be available in
the 2016 academic year.
The process of developing, implementing, and enhancing noncredit certificate programs in community
colleges is depicted in Figure 2. State governing board or coordinating board authorizes community colleges to
grant noncredit certificates. Through these programs, community colleges play a key role in supporting students to
learn skills, obtain credentials, and further develop their career and educational pathways. Some community
colleges establish partnership with local industry, providing training and job opportunities for students. In return,
graduates from the program became effective and efficient workers for employers, contributing FTE and revenue
to community colleges, and further contributing to postsecondary completion agenda, workforce development,
and state economy.
Figure 2. Stakeholders of Noncredit Certificate
Programs in Community College!
The following recommendations are based upon this paper’s case study analysis of these two different
state community college systems as well as utilizing previous research on training certificates. The intentions of
this analysis is to provide potential suggestions for institutions and state systems to consider as they develop and
implement noncredit training certificate programs. Although the results of this analysis is limited to only two
states (Maryland and Oregon) and focuses on a limited number of different two-year degree granting institutions
within these respective states, higher education administrators can find valuable insights in the development and
progression of these stakeholders.
A key insight gathered from the state of Oregon workgroup is the need for any institution looking to
develop a training program to build a framework and plan to guide the process. According to an Oregon training
Noncredit Training
Intentional inclusion of
industry partners in training
Develop broad noncredit
training skills to be utilized
across disciplines and industry
Implement assessment
protocol for training
Develop outlined
communication strategy with
local industry to adapt and
implement “just-in-time”
Investigate innovative
financing options for noncredit
Evaluate and implement
student support measures to
foster further educational
Gather specific student,
institutional, and employment
information for database
development in order to make
data-driven decisions
administrator, it is vital to research and partner with local industry and
focus on two important questions:
What knowledge, skills and ability do you want students to
Is it important that they have demonstrated ability through an
academic credit program or simply to just have the ability?
Based upon answers to these questions, a community college can decide
on the effectiveness of its training program and how to develop
competencies and learning outcomes with valid assessments that align
to local industry needs. In addition to creating industry specific
noncredit certificates, community colleges could develop training areas
that are much broader in scope to be utilized in multiple career fields
(e.g., Digital Skills training, Supervisory/Management training). After
conducting an industry and job task analysis, a potential value addition
to is to illustrate to students how these training certificate can lead to
stackable credentials and thereby foster additional educational pursuits.
In every arena of higher education, cost is always a concern.
Even though noncredit training certificates are based upon the premise
of providing affordable and applicable job training, general concern
about the cost of tuition continues to exist even despite how these
certificates can create employment opportunities. Research indicates
that a student with a workforce training certificate has greater chance of
employment as well as increased earning potential as compared to their
colleagues without this credential (Carnevale, Rose, & Hanson, 2012).
Given the impact that a training certificate can have on employment and
wage earning, more community college students have enrolled in
certificate programs (Carnevale, Rose, & Hanson, 2012). Coupled with
the increased employment opportunities, the cost of a workforce
certificate is significantly cheaper than that of an associate's or
bachelor's degree. According to Xu and Ran (2015, p. 9), they found
that for that cost for noncredit training courses over 50 hours was
“approximately $180” for the course as compared to a credit bearing
course which is “about $70 per credit hour” and an average of “$210 for
a three credit hour course”. Despite the lower cost of these programs,
the student demographics within these noncredit programs are often
from a lower socioeconomic status and therefore often have to balance
both work and school responsibilities. Given that these students handle
multiple commitments, over half (53.8 percent) of noncredit students
only completed two noncredit courses (one semester) without persisting
(Xu & Ran, 2015). Even though the cost of college certificate is more
affordable than other college credentials, there is still considerable
differences as to the funding of these certificates. For example, in
Maryland, the funding options allow students to seek financial support
from the federal, institutional, and employer levels. As Oregon begins
its process of awarding these certificates, stakeholders will need to
address the various funding models as well as initiate with employers to
investigate possible employer tuition stipends.
A View of Noncredit Training Certificate Stakeholders in Two Different States | Page 11
Page 12 | Different Noncredit Stages
In addition to addressing issues of funding, it
is important to consider the impact how students
receiving these certificates can impact the workforce
issues. Employers recognize the foundation and
credibility of a certificate over a different type of
credential title. In the development of the Oregon
initiative in offering “certificates” in training rather
than their traditional “recognition”, employers’
feedback as to the relevance and importance of a
certificate was key in fostering the change of the
credential title. Employers realize that a certificate
implies both training rigor and program assessment,
and thereby the concept of a certificate is more
familiar to employers and also provided more
credibility. Also, noncredit certificate programs can
also be the magnet to draw new adult learners and
industry partners into the community. According to
Cronen and Murphy (2013), “Noncredit education
serves an important role in supporting the growth of
local business, by providing a workforce with the
required skills.”
In terms of educational mobility, national
research indicates that obtaining a postsecondary
training certificate can affect students’ education
aspirations to pursue other postsecondary credentials
(Carnevale, Rose, & Hanson, 2012). Specifically, in
these states and others, understanding the both the
incentives and barriers to students’ potential pursuit of
other such college credentials as associate and
baccalaureate degrees could provide more information
into the developing more effective programs and
policies for these students. While noncredit training is
most often related to current employment needs,
gaining a noncredit credential can foster further
educational aspirations. In fact in California, the
community college system found that “noncredit basic
skills, English as a Second Language (ESL), and Career
Technical Education (CTE) are the noncredit
programs from which students would be most likely to
transition into credit programs” (The Academic Senate
for California Community Colleges, 2009).According
to the Center on Education and Workforce, the most
utilized educational pathway (62 percent) to obtain a
certificate was to complete the certificate prior to
pursuing further postsecondary education. Therefore,
it is these training opportunities that can encourage
and support student motivation and even to make that
leap to more advanced programs or career positions.
An important recommendation in any training
certificate program is the need for comprehensive
and aligned educational support measures and
adaptive curriculum. However, effective strategies for
workforce training, especially for non-traditional
students, should include providing program-related
specific advice, supporting during the program to
ensure completion, supporting job placement, and
building educational pathways for skill upgrading or
further education (Cummins, 2015). In particular, it is
important to develop specific interventions for non-
traditional learners, females, and students of color. In
particular, with nearly 34 percent of certificate holders
above the age of 30 (SIPP, 2012), training programs
need to consider instructional methodologies and
specific support services such as extended advising
hours for those students with outside campus
responsibilities. According to the Center on
Education and the Workforce (2012), individuals who
obtain a certificate can on average earn 20 percent
more that high school graduates without any college
experience. Research illustrates that specific program
components can increase student employment and
financial opportunities (Carnevale, Rose, & Hanson,
2012). These programs components include
opportunities to work in their field and work support
programs such as job placement opportunities to gain
As employers continue to really on education
institutions to provide effective skills training to meet
their workforce demands, community colleges will
need to continually monitor the specific job skills in
demand, provide adaptable and effective training
content, and implement student support measure to
ensure student achievement. The continuous influx of
new technologies and processes demands that
employers are constantly needing to train and develop
employees to meet new job skills. Forecasting
technology trends and innovation process can be
difficulty for employers, but in their attempt to
continuously innovate their production or service, it
would benefit community college to participate in
that dialogue. For example, as automobile
maintenance is one of the main certificate areas, it is
vital for community colleges is understand auto
maintenance trends through both researching
technology trends and constant communication with
relevant employers.
As a community college credential, it allows for better tracking system and understanding of student
employment patterns and educational mobility. In terms of student employment, more data on the employer's
needs and if students are meeting that need. As labor market needs change, community colleges will track
student educational and work experiences. Unlike other higher education credentials, there is no well-organized
national or state level databases that tract occupational certifications or licensing. Although the federal
departments (for example, Bureau of Labor) investigates union status and worker displacement and national
occupational organizations (for example, gather salary information and new entries), the lack of comprehensive
database for certifications is a barrier to understand the value of these programs in terms of human capital
building. In addition to understanding employment data, community colleges could benefit in training program
evaluation and development to understand the pattern of course-taking and dropping-out patterns to better
support students.
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The National Council for Continuing Education & Training (NCCET) is
committed to providing its members with benefits that keep them up to date on
new trends, help maintain a personal and professional network, and give access to
the latest leading-edge programs throughout the country.
NCCET is the
national organization for leaders in workforce, community, and economic
The NCCET leadership is active on the national scene, working with the
American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Commissions, such as the
Commissions on Economic and Workforce Development, and Learning and
Communications Technologies. NCCET has actively been contributing to
national policy development through our sponsorship of national colloquia on
certification and credentialing and transcripting, as well as our authorship of white
papers on these important topics.
Our constituents are continuing education leaders, professionals, and innovators
in community and junior colleges and technical schools. Other important
stakeholders are our corporate partners and our parent organization, the AACC.
Page 14
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Full-text available
Abstract This paper provides the first estimates of the labor-market returns to community college diplomas and certificates. Using administrative data from Kentucky, I find earnings returns of around 30 percent for associate’s degrees and diplomas for women, compared to returns of 10 percent or less for men. Certificates have a small positive return for women but an insignificantre turn for men. For all awards, the field of study with the highest returns is health. All awards correspond with higher levels of employment. ,,,,,,,,,,,, Corresponding author. We thank Ginny Kidwell for excellent research assistance, as well as Christina Whitfield, Alicia Crouch, Rion McDonald, and Aphy Brough at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) for providing access to and helpwith their administrative data. All opinions are solely those of the authors. Introductio
Objective: This study examines the characteristics, course enrollment patterns, and academic outcomes of students who started their college careers in noncredit courses. Method: Drawing upon a rich dataset that includes transcript and demographic information on both for-credit and noncredit students in multiple institutions, this study explores the demographic and academic profiles of students enrolled in various fields of noncredit education, their course performance in noncredit programs, their educational intent upon initial enrollment, and their transition to the for-credit sector among degree-seeking students. Results: Our results support recent evidence from qualitative studies and studies from a single institution that students enrolled in noncredit programs tend to be adult learners and are typically from a lower socioeconomic background than credit students at community colleges. Yet, more than half of the noncredit students drop out of college after their initial term, even among students who expressed intent to transition to credit-bearing programs. The idiosyncratic patterns of course enrollment and transition to credential programs seem to suggest that there is no general structured pathway or institutional support for credential-seeking noncredit students. Contributions: This article is among one of the first attempts that use student transcript data from multiple institutions to provide a comprehensive understanding of noncredit students and their academic outcomes. Results from this study highlight the importance of future research in exploring institutional services and structures that may effectively facilitate the academic progression and success of noncredit students.
This short paper concerns the strategy, development and implementation of computer-based information systems in a medium-sized U.K. building society during the period 1981 to 1987. The Society experienced a dramatic improvement in its financial performance during the period under the leadership of its Chief Executive, with IS being central to the changes which took place. An outline case history is presented here, followed by some formal analysis of the case in terms of social context and process. Some conclusions are drawn on whether users 'got what they wanted' in this case, and on whether this is an appropriate focus for the development of information systems in organizations.A much fuller description and analysis of this case, including a later two-year period under a new Chief Executive, is given in the book referenced at the end of this paper.
Despite the desire of many older adults to remain in the workforce, those without jobs face unprecedented durations of unemployment. Many of the unemployed lack current skills for jobs in demand and need to either upgrade their skills or be trained for a new occupation to become reemployed. An aging workforce, combined with the negative effects of the recent economic downturn, has increased the importance of identifying strategies to encourage working at older ages. In recent years there has been increased focus on training that results in a credential; much of this training takes place at community colleges. The present study examined community college involvement in outreach and support programs for older displaced workers. This involved interviews with 27 key informants at 14 community colleges to gain an understanding of the role community colleges play in linking older students to credential or certificate programs. Effective strategies for community college involvement in workforce training were identified and include outreach programs for older students, providing advice for specific programs of study, support during the program to ensure completion, job placement services, and continuing education for skill upgrading.
This chapter examines the involvement of the community college in the GED process as well as the academic outcomes for high school dropouts who have enrolled in the program. Using Iowa as an example, the chapter examines the available data and derives important policies for GED in specific and other noncredit coursework in general.
While community colleges pride themselves on their inclusiveness, they tend not to enroll many of the lowest performing students leaving high schools, most of the disconnected youth who have dropped out of high school, and many low-income adults. This article explores the possibility of using noncredit education as a bridging mechanism to allow such students to enter the community college. Noncredit programs have many advantages including lower cost; greater accessibility, flexibility, and responsiveness; and greater access to immigrants. Some noncredit centers have worked hard to develop smooth transitions to the credit programs of their colleges. While noncredit education has great promise as a mechanism for expanding access to community colleges, it also faces familiar problems: inadequate funding, low status, inadequate support services, and developing in adequate articulation mechanisms with credit programs. Finally, community colleges cannot by themselves resolve the problems of inadequate schooling and poverty, and a variety of complementary social and economic policies must also be developed.
Postsecondary education institutions of all types now operate in an external societal context increasingly influenced by international internet communication and global market forces. The college aspirations of nontraditional age (adult) postsecondary students facing a variety of choices for further education and/or job skills often reflect their work-related goals. Employing multinomial logistic (MNL) regression analysis, with selected results illustrated by plotting predicted probabilities, and using a nationally representative sample, this study tests the primary hypothesis that career-oriented young adults value postsecondary credential programs (either a college or university program, or a vocational/technical diploma/certificate program) over noncredit courses. (Contains 1 figure, 3 tables and 5 footnotes.)
Discusses a 50-state survey by the National Council for Continuing Education regarding the issue of funding for noncredit courses in community colleges. Reports that 17 states include noncredit courses for funding on an FTE basis, and that no states fund hobby, avocational, or recreation non-credit classes. Argues that lifelong learning is a crucial factor in American economics. Contains four tables. (NB)
This study inventoried state policies and regulations on and financial support for noncredit occupational programming offered by community colleges. Information collected from state- and community college-level administrators and Web-based searches is organized by a range of issues related to noncredit occupational programming and funding, such as definitions for noncredit; categories of noncredit courses; development and delivery of programming, including content standards, instructor qualifications, and noncredit-to-credit course transfer; state-level collection of noncredit programming data; state funding mechanisms for noncredit courses; and contract training. The study also lays the groundwork for further research on the impact of community college noncredit programming policies and funding on course availability and accessibility, business and industry partnerships, and reporting mechanisms and data systems for noncredit programming. The authors' most telling findings concerned the range of operational definitions for noncredit programming and for noncredit occupational programming; the existence or absence of policies for development, delivery, and funding; the extent to which different funding mechanisms were used; and the paucity of data easily accessible (if even available) by the states. An apparent constant was the use of contract training in some capacity in every state. In all of this, the community college played a primary role, although many states maintained some degree of oversight, mainly for content standards and course approval. Another key player was the business and industry partner, often but not always through formal agreements due to either by programming or funding policies. Based on the extensive amount of information gathered for this study as well as in-depth discussions with state and community college representatives, different avenues for future research might be considered. This paper offers key recommendations. Appendices include: (1) Inventory of State Policies and Funding for Community College Noncredit Programming; (2) Community College Noncredit Study Interview Protocol; (3) Sample State Web Sites and Documents Reviewed; (4) Noncredit Programming Definitions; (5) State Policies for Community College Noncredit Occupational Course Development and Delivery; (6) State Funding Policies and Entities Responsible for Noncredit Occupational Programming; and (7) State Funding Mechanisms for Noncredit Occupational Programming at Community Colleges. (Contains 16 tables.)