(KXAN) — If you still want to learn but have neither the time, nor the money required to get a graduate or undergraduate degree from the University of Texas system, a micro-credential might be for you.
Students can obtain these industry-recognized credentials at just a fraction of the cost of a degree.
The University of Texas System is leading an initiative to expand the short trainings and courses to help people become certified to fill in-demand jobs.
Below is a conversation between KXAN’s Tom Miller and UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken. Some minor editing was done for clarity.
Miller: What is a micro-credential?
Milliken: Everybody’s familiar with two and four-year degrees, kind of traditional programs of study that lead to careers. These are short-term credentials, that provide skills that can be available to people mid-career, or while they’re in school getting a traditional degree.
Miller: How long would it take to get a micro-credential in terms of coursework training?
Milliken: I look at this in three ways. One of the credentials would be for people who are displaced or stalled workers who want to advance their careers. A second one would be for people who are in a successful career but are looking to upskill to get some new training to move up the ladder. And the third is for traditional college students who could get it while they’re in school. For instance, a liberal arts major getting a credential in business along the way. So there are lots of different ways you could do [it]. It could be a few weeks in time, there are 12-week [micro-credentials]. For instance, cyber security boot camps where you can get a credential, but you can do it in several different ways.
Miller: Are there specific areas of study where this is needed more than others?
Milliken: Absolutely. We know today that there are 50,000 jobs in cybersecurity in Texas that are going unfilled because there aren’t entry-level, qualified workers for them. There are probably close to a million such jobs in the United States that are unfilled. This is something where entry-level doesn’t require a traditional degree, [and] could be satisfied with a short-term credential. Others are certain business programs like supply chain, logistics and project management, where a certain level of skill can prepare graduating students or mid-career workers for new jobs.
Miller: How many of these programs are currently in place, and how large [would] you like to expand the offerings?
Milliken: There are over 100 of these micro-credentials or short-term programs with certificates across the UT system today. The point is really not for us to have as many of these as possible. It’s to define which ones are most needed in the workplace, and which ones will have validation from employers.