-  Inside Higher Ed, an online source for news for all higher education, released an article Wednesday concerning alternative credentialing for US colleges. The article spoke of the relationship between manufacturing employers and colleges and the need for a hybrid approach in higher education.

“We’re dealing with an industry that has lost a lot of faith in working with education,” said Jacey Wilkins, a spokeswoman for the Manufacturing Institute. In particular, Wilkins said manufacturers have been frustrated with the dismantling of vocational education.

The article spoke of the Institute’s initiative to create a skills certification system for the education of manufacturing employees. The article states that ‘the stackable credentials include four tiers of competency for applicants and veteran employees to demonstrate… proving that they have high-tech skills in specialized manufacturing fields, like machinery or medical technology’.

Harper College, an Illinois based community college, has begun to utilize the credentialing system. The college has launched a program where students can utilize internships to earn industry-endorsed certifications in various manufacturing fields. Harper’s program now has over 54 manufacturing companies involved and is offering students the opportunity to earn up to sixteen credits in four months.

Currently, the Manufacturing Institute says that 115 institutions across the United States have incorporated elements of the skills certification system. “We’re talking about system change here. That doesn’t happen overnight,” Wilkins said. “Eventually we’ll get to the point where this is the standard for manufacturing education.”

Read the entire Inside Higher Ed article

Learn more about the Institute’s Skills Certification System

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