Rutgers EERC Snapshot

In recent years, interest in noncredit educational programs has increased substantially, yet there is little research to ascertain their return on investment. So say researchers Michelle Van Noy and Katherine Hughes in the February 2022 issue brief of the Rutgers Education and Employment Research Center, A Snapshot of the Shifting Landscape of Noncredit Community College Workforce Education. The brief provides a “timely descriptive look at noncredit workforce education in a range of colleges across the country.” Interviews of personnel at 29 community and technical colleges in 22 states were conducted to gain a sense of how different colleges provide noncredit opportunities to their students. The researchers noted much variety in colleges’ focus, purpose, and target student population. Some colleges provide workforce training programs within comprehensive models that include Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language, GED preparation, and recreation and personal enrichment while others have shifted away from that model to focus more narrowly on workforce preparation. Some colleges see their noncredit programs as serving the entire community while others focus more on certain student populations. Comparable differences in approach were noted with respect to the organization and structure of noncredit programs and their relationship to credit-bearing programs. Noncredit education is an arena in which “substantial shifts [are] under way in how the offerings are organized, conceived, marketed, and delivered”—and in which more research is needed. Download the brief here.

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