ROCKLAND COUNTY, NY — If you’re looking for a promotion or a career change, but don’t have the time or money for a college degree, the new trend in education is for you.
Microloans are flexible: perhaps three courses in a subject, or courses plus preparation for a required certification, or both plus applied learning experience. They often combine courses from saved curriculums – and they are “stackable”.
Building Blocks, especially for underserved and often overlooked communities, “they create a continuous pool of qualified candidates for employers and build student confidence and skills,” Fabiola Riobé, Assistant Vice President for Academic Innovation, online education and global opportunities at Rockland Community College, Patch said.
The priority is to provide knowledge and experiences that have immediate value in the job market and relevance to a professional field or discipline. They’re taught by college professors, and the academic credits and customization add value.
They cater directly to the corporate sector. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 74% of hiring managers agree that the market is experiencing a skills gap, with 48% of applicants lacking the skills to fill vacancies. Additionally, 74% of HR managers say they now require a credential to be presented when hiring.
Also, if you want to get a degree, the stackable part relieves a lot of pressure, especially if you work and also take care of a family. Take a few courses, pass the certification exam required for that promotion at work, and have those credits in the bag when you can earn more time for more.
But it is by no means just a segmented version of the traditional degree pipeline. Micro-certificates are smaller, more targeted and personalized. You can take online, in-person, hybrid, full-semester, or 8-week “flex start” sessions.
“Adapting the traditional apprenticeship module to the needs of the workforce is an innovative way to fill the talent pool in New York City,” said Heather Briccetti, President and CEO of the State of Business Council of New York. “Micro-credentials allow job seekers to show they have the skills to meet job requirements while putting them on a path of more opportunity.”
The State University of New York just expanded to offer 400 microcredits across 31 SUNY campuses in high-demand areas including health, business, education, clean energy, technology information, criminal justice and advanced manufacturing.
Rockland Community College launched its microcredit program in December, Doreen Zarcone, RCC coordinator, Academic and Career Strategies, Microcredit Initiative and English Skills Academy, told Patch.
They based their initial offers on student interest and the needs reported by local businesses.
“There is a demand for employees with these skills, which has been pent up because of the pandemic,” Zarcone said.
They offer credited micro-certificates in the Hospitality and Culinary Arts program, the Front Office Management program, the IT Support Professional program, and the Fitness Trainer and Sports Nutritional Specialist programs.
Take the Hospitality and Culinary Arts program, based in Nyack. Students can take a set of three to four college courses to earn a microcredit and digital badge for Baking Fundamentals, Baking Specialization, or Food Preparation. A ServSafe certification, accredited by the National Restaurant Association, is required for culinary microloans and is also offered in college.
With the office management microloan, you can learn the skills you need to get a job, then by combining them, you could earn a business degree in two years or less.
Learn more about the RCC program here and the full SUNY initiative here.