Noncredit Research Collaborative

Blog Articles

With rapid technological advances, the U.S. labor market exhibits a growing need for more frequent and ongoing skill development. Community college noncredit career and technical education (CTE) programs that allow students to complete workforce training and earn credentials play an essential role in providing workers with the skills they need to compete for jobs in high-demand fields. Yet, there is a dearth of research on these programs because noncredit students are typically not included in state and national postsecondary datasets. In this guest blog for CTE Month, researchers Di Xu, Benjamin Castleman, and Betsy Tessler discuss their IES-funded exploration study in which they build on a long-standing research partnership with the Virginia Community College System and leverage a variety of data sources to investigate the Commonwealth’s FastForward programs. These programs are noncredit CTE programs designed to lead to an industry-recognized credential in one of several high-demand fields identified by the Virginia Workforce Board.

This is the trancription of Dr. Peter Bahr’s conversation with Meni Sarris his podcast, The Education Beyond Degrees. Read their conversation about Dr. Bahr’s research and how the overlap of serving our communities and higher education has become critical as the needs of our students change.

This article discusses the challenges and opportunities related to mobility and pathways in community college education, particularly in the context of workforce education programs. It highlights the need for a more flexible and holistic approach that allows students to transition between various types of educational offerings, including credit-based career education, noncredit occupational training, and traditional transfer degrees. The “TECH Approach” is proposed, which includes principles of transparency, equity, career orientation, and a holistic approach to create clearer and more accessible pathways for students. The article provides examples of institutions that have successfully implemented such pathways, emphasizing the importance of educational and economic mobility and the role of workforce needs in driving these efforts. The ultimate goal is to make innovative agreements the norm within community colleges and state systems of higher education, offering students and employers greater transparency and opportunities for higher-level credentials.