© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

SUNY schools offer a new program to train students for high-demand jobs

WTT-Student Picture-4.jpg
Farmingdale State College
Students enrolled in the Farmingdale State College Wind Energy Technology micro-credential are exploring characteristics of different types of AC and DC motors.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced a new program to create more than 400 microcredentials across 31 SUNY campuses. The microcredential programs last for only one or two semesters to help current students and working professionals learn new skills to meet job demands, and advance their careers fast by getting hands-on experience.

"As the strongest public university system in the country, SUNY is well-positioned to lead the way in preparing New Yorkers for the rapidly-evolving job market of the future," Hochul said. "The microcredential program will enable New Yorkers of all professional backgrounds to gain the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for more immediately and flexibly than a traditional college course-load allows.”

“This forward-looking approach to higher education will position New York as the destination state for businesses demanding a highly-skilled and dynamic workforce," she added.

The program focuses in high-demand fields like healthcare, business and education. SUNY Assistant Vice Chancellor Kyle Adams said the program will help fill job openings with the largest staffing shortages.

“We see the data nationally and we hear it from employers locally that they’re just not finding the candidates that they need with the skills to fill open jobs,” Adams said. “They’re designed to teach in-demand skills to working professionals, students to add to their degree program, really anyone who can benefit from learning a new skill or competency quickly.”

Some of the programs, including clean energy, information technology, criminal justice, advanced manufacturing, welding, accounting and mental health, also give students several paths to success, he said.

“First is the focus on educational quality,” Adams said. “Every microcredential is strictly vetted and goes through a very rigorous process. Second is that they’re stackable so not only are you going to get the immediate skill, but you also get academic credit. Nothing is wasted with getting microcredentials.”

Stackable microcredentials are part of a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time. This helps to build up a student’s qualifications, moves them along a career pathway and further their education.

Cynthia Proctor, who works in academic policy development at SUNY, said this program is for everyone, not just students.

“One of the great things for microcredentials, especially for adult learners, is that you can really get your feet wet with something that’s small,” she said. “You don’t have to commit to a full degree program.”

Proctor said not only do students in the program become highly skilled but they also get academic credit. Many of them end with a digital badge that graduates can use on their resumes or on LinkedIn to show employers that they know the skills needed to accomplish the job.

The state is a national leader in developing high quality microcredential programs, according to SUNY.

Some other colleges and universities that have their own microcredential programs include Illinois State, University of Michigan, Purdue University and the University of Utah.

Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California, Davis, University of California, Irvine, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Wisconsin‐Extension and the University of Washington Continuum College collaborated together to make the University Learning Store.

Deborah Stanley, the SUNY Interim Chancellor and former president of SUNY Oswego, stands behind Hochul’s investment and goal in helping New Yorkers learn the skills needed for high-demand fields.

"Microcredentials are sought after by employers and employees alike in affirming more specialized skills needed now in healthcare, information technology, and many other fields,” Stanley said. “SUNY was one of the first university systems in the country to adopt an innovative microcredential policy to close skills gaps for adult learners, with a focus on academic quality first and foremost.”

Natalie is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.