DENVER – The Colorado Community College System announced Jan. 18 it will build five micro-pathways in energy and healthcare in partnership with the Education Design Lab, a national nonprofit that designs, implements and scales new learning models for higher education.
Designed with input from learners and employers, micro-pathway programs combine two or more stackable credentials in high-growth, high-paying fields that can be completed in a year or less. The Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges will receive a $262,500 grant from the EDL to build the program and will advise colleges on best practices. EDL will also provide an additional $1 million in technical support to CCCS for a total investment of more than $1.25 million.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Education Design Lab and roll out this exciting approach to program design at our colleges,” said Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System. “This collaboration keeps us at the forefront of work-based learning innovation and will help us meet the needs of our growing adult learner population.”
Pueblo Community College is one of seven CCCS schools selected to pilot the program. The others are Arapahoe Community College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Community College of Aurora, Community College of Denver, Lamar Community College and Northeastern Community College.
“A whole new world of learners has emerged as we embrace the new normal of higher education,” said PCC President Patty Erjavec. “Bite-size education is needed for the right learner at the right time and micro-credentials are becoming the favorable solution – from both the learner and employer perspective – to achieve this.
“I am so pleased that PCC has the opportunity to engage in this work. I look forward to adding yet another valuable resource for our students to gain the skills they need to be contributing members of their communities.”
According to EDL research, micro-pathway programs often offer more flexibility and a clearer return on investment for adult learners. Collaborating on micro-pathways can also strengthen relationships between employers and community colleges, according to the EDL.
“The Lab’s funding and technical assistance will help jumpstart these programs in energy and healthcare – two dynamic and essential industries in Colorado,” said Michael Macklin, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and workforce development at CCCS. “By mapping out learning tracks combining non-credit and credit-bearing courses, as well as industry-recognized credentials, students will have clear paths into jobs that are high-skill, high-wage and in-demand with the opportunity to earn a certificate or associate degree.”
If successful, CCCS hopes to design more micro-pathways for additional career sectors.