California Education Dialogue

A public policy dialogue produced by Information Renaissance
with support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,
IBM Corporation and Intel Corporation

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Emerging Modes of Delivery, Certification and Planning

Section IV


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, educating the 21st Century workforce is not just about making sure that Silicon Valley has enough engineers. Its mission is to provide hope – to ensure that all American workers have the opportunity to equip themselves with the necessary tools to succeed in their careers amidst the tremendous change occurring across the country and around the globe. America’s 21st Century workforce needs to adjust to the changes of the 21st Century economy. These changes include a fundamental transformation for all industries and their increasingly higher skill set and postsecondary requirements.

What California already has in postsecondary education are well-established degree programs that generally follow disciplines in informed ways. Individual institutions have established cross-skill certifications that are topical rather than disciplinary, for example screenwriting, marketing, and human resources. In the 21st century economy, more flexibility is being applied in both education and the workforce. With the Master Plan effort, there is further opportunity to establish certification programs that are student-focused.


Flexibility to Meet Learner Needs

  1. The State should identify an entity to develop a common set of requirements for certificates to be developed by a consortium of partners, including education institutions, employers, and community-based organizations.

    Commentary: The average adult will have six to seven jobs and cannot expect to spend his or her entire career with a single organization. Further, emerging technologies and business practices require continuous education. It may also not be practical for all to earn a traditional four-year degree. Extension programs, continuing education units, certificate programs, and vocational training are increasing to meet the needs of individuals and employers. Over the next twenty years, the demand for short-term, customized education programs can be expected to increase. If California is to remain competitive; its educational institutions must be prepared to meet this demand. One successful example is the certification programs established by the high-tech industry.

    Any representative of a legitimate partnership should be eligible for certification approval, as long as valid proof of commitment is demonstrated, such as a memorandum of understanding from all partners and a proposal including a detailed outline of course curriculum. The certificates should be recognized statewide by institutions and employers, but still allow development of custom certificates for institutional or employer needs. These would not be in lieu of, but in addition to existing certification programs.

    Students completing adult continuing education courses should have recognition of their level of competency. The State should have assessments appropriate to all approved program categories in adult continuing education to determine the level of student competence in all approved program categories. Certification for adults would assist them when presenting their skills and experience to employers and would also be beneficial to employers seeking employees with specific skill sets. Further, the certificates should be portable and recognized throughout the state.

Contents Summary Background I. Delivery
II. Organization III. Assessment IV. Certification V. Planning
VI. Adult Ed. Conclusion Presenters Members