Through our EcO Network partnerships we are making the learning that takes place in publicly-funded workforce training programs transparent to employers, education providers, and individuals themselves. As one of twenty-four Lumina Foundation designated Talent Hub sites, we are focusing our regional efforts on adults with no college, particularly low-income and Latino populations, in Southeast Indiana. In 2015 30.6% of the adults age 25 to 64 in Southeast Indiana had achieved a 2-year degree or more. That educational attainment rate is too low to meet local workforce demands. Through the Talent Hub strategies, with a focus on low-income and Latino adults, we’ve set a collective stretch goal of reaching 35% postsecondary attainment rate by 2020. To achieve this goal, we need to bring learning opportunities to our region, creating stronger pathways to degrees for populations that have been underrepresented in higher education.
One key strategy is to increase regional awareness of the value of industry certifications as a way to connect potential adult learners to better paying jobs. The Powerhouse Credentials Crosswalk is a tool developed by EcO Network partners to increase awareness and understanding of the credentials in high demand by regional employers. This work identified thirty industry recognized certifications, aligned with high demand workforce needs, and mapped the stackable credits from each of those industry certifications into degree pathways at Ivy Tech Community College. The Crosswalk provides a visual framework to promote understanding among students and employers of the valuable opportunities industry certifications create for linking people to better jobs and degrees.
Of the 100 adult learners earning nationally recognized certifications last year, through training provided by three regional adult education organizations, 92% were employed in an industry sector aligned with their area of training. While certifications positively impact employability, there is more to the story. Certifications, and the learning they represent, translate into college credits that can be applied toward a degree.
The Powerhouse Credentials Crosswalk and User Guidelines are publicly available on the EcO Network website.