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Hochul announces expansion of SUNY microcredentials for in-demand job fields


Tue, Feb 15th 2022 03:00 pm

SUNY offers over 400 microcredentials to power upskilling, professional advancement, and job readiness with education in high-demand fields, or credit toward college-level certificates or degrees

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced the expansion of fast and flexible learning options with more than 400 microcredentials across 31 SUNY campuses to help everyone from current students to working professionals gain skills, knowledge and experience that employers are looking for. Microcredentials are designed to be completed in a shorter timeframe than a college degree, taking one or two semesters, not years, to complete, and providing immediate evidence of skills mastered via a college transcript or digital badge.

"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 courseload 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."

Focused in more than 60 areas of study, SUNY's microcredentials are in high-demand fields including health care, business, education, clean energy, information technology, criminal justice, and advanced manufacturing. Every microcredential provides immediate, workforce-ready skills, and most (64%) offer academic credits toward another microcredential, certificate, or an initial or advanced degree. SUNY campuses can customize microcredentials to help meet the workforce needs of businesses, P-12, or community organizations.

Hochul’s team said, “Microcredentials are one offering in line with the governor's state of the state call to lead in adult learning opportunities and help New Yorkers close the skills gap. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 74% of hiring managers agree that the market is seeing a skills gap, with 48% of candidates lacking the skills needed to fill open positions. In addition, 74% of human resource managers say they now require the submission of a credential when hiring.

In addition to offering new programs, the governor has also called for a review of college and university practices to eliminate barriers for students. In her state of the state, she directed SUNY and CUNY leadership to end the practice of withholding transcripts from students with outstanding balances, which was implemented within weeks of her address. Her team said, “Having a transcript allows students to reenroll in a campus, transfer credits, complete their degree, and obtain jobs that could help them pay down their unpaid balance.”

SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, "Microcredentials are sought after by employers and employees alike in affirming more specialized skills needed now in health care, information technology, and many other fields. 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. Through the expertise of our faculty and in partnership with community, regional and state partners, we now have a large portfolio of high-quality microcredentials so that we may begin to meet Gov. Hochul's goal to help more New Yorkers learn the skills needed for today's workforce."

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "We are in the era of lifelong learning. The expansion of the SUNY microcredential program is a great addition to Gov. Hochul's multipronged approach that ensures New Yorkers receive the quality training they need while creating a skilled workforce for businesses. It is synergy like this that is the recipe for New York's economic success."

SUNY Board Trustee Robert J. Duffy said, "SUNY microcredentials should be a standard addition to the employee benefits programs of New York businesses, P-12 school districts, and community partners. It's a win-win for employers and employees through real-time training, upskilling, professional development, and an investment in continued education through additional microcredentials, an initial or even an advanced degree." 

The Business Council of New York State President and CEO Heather Briccetti said, "Adapting the traditional learning module to fit workforce needs is an innovative way to fill the talent pipeline in New York. Microcredentials allow jobseekers to show they have the skills to meet the job demands while also setting them on a pathway with more opportunities. Likewise, they are the 'just-in-time skills' employers are seeking to get people onboarded and into the workforce. We look forward to continuing to work with SUNY to share the value of microcredentials with the business community so more employers know about this great skills-based curriculum."

SUNY's microcredential program continues to grow and evolve, with current priorities centered on enhanced communication about available microcredentials; identification of gaps in industries or professions relevant to the state; creating more pathways from entry-level to advanced employment and from certificates to advanced degrees; and streamlining application and transcript processes. As part of the governor's goal, SUNY will continue to prioritize recruitment and educational programs, and conduct surveys to identify and reduce barriers for adult learners.

A press release stated, “SUNY has been a national and global leader in microcredential development. SUNY's program is distinct in a competitive national environment, because its microcredentials are taught by SUNY faculty and focus on strict quality standards to award college credit. While SUNY's microcredentials are responsive to national and international trends and professional standards, they are also aligned to local, regional and state workforce needs.”

Campuses currently offering microcredentials include: SUNY Adirondack, University at Albany, Binghamton University, Broome Community College, Buffalo State College, University at Buffalo, SUNY Canton, Cayuga Community College, SUNY Cobleskill, Columbia-Greene Community College, Corning Community College, Dutchess Community College, Empire State College, SUNY Erie, Farmingdale State College, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Genesee Community College, SUNY Geneseo, Hudson Valley Community College, Jefferson Community College, Mohawk Valley Community College, Monroe Community College, Niagara County Community College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Old Westbury, SUNY Optometry, Rockland Community College, SUNY Schenectady, Tompkins Cortland Community College, SUNY Ulster and Upstate Medical University.

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the U.S., and more than 95% of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state's only college of optometry, and manages one U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures systemwide were nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about SUNY, visit www.suny.edu.

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