- Postsecondary certificate completions may be higher than previously thought although they are still largely unknown, according to Campus Technology, which cites a report from research firm Eduventures.
- Underreporting can occur for several reasons, including confusion over how many credit hours are required in order to be reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), low-enrollment programs forgoing federal aid by opting out of IPEDS reporting and the number of MOOC platforms that aren't required to report.
- MOOC and commercial education providers will likely begin to announce their certificate completion numbers in the next few years as their numbers improve. Meanwhile, colleges are encouraged to improve their reporting of certificate completions.
Certificate programs are being touted as one answer to the current education "mix-match" highlighted in a recent report by Urban Institute researchers, who noted there is a significant difference between the types of jobs available and the number of people with the corresponding education to apply.
A 2014 Gallup poll found 96% of chief academic officers in higher ed said they were effectively preparing their students for the workforce, yet only 11% of business leaders in a separate 2013 Gallup survey said they "strongly agree" colleges are graduating students will the skills and competencies their businesses need.
Businesses are looking for workers who are prepared to take on a variety of middle-skill jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. For students who want to avoid the high cost of completing a degree, a certificate program can be a viable pathway to a promising career. These same students are also looking to be trained quickly so they can enter the workforce and start earning a salary.
Tech employers such as Amazon, Facebook and Google are stepping in to fill the void for qualified new hires by partnering with colleges as well as third-party education providers to create courses and even entire certificates that train students in the skills they need in the workforce.
Google, for example, has developed a five-course online IT certification available through Coursera. It has recorded more than 40,000 enrollees and 1,200 completions in the first month. Now, more than two dozen community colleges and Northeastern University say they will offer credit for the program. Kevin Mills, Coursera's head of business development and sales, told Education Dive earlier this year there are roughly 150,000 unfilled IT specialist jobs in the U.S.