May 22, 2023
The federal government, states, institutional leaders, and researchers are striving to understand the entirety of workforce offerings in the United States. But there is a huge blind spot: noncredit offerings. While colleges, states, and the federal government collect data on for-credit offerings, the data on noncredit offerings, student participation, and outcomes is fragmented—and sometimes nonexistent.
That’s why a team led by Michelle Van Noy of Rutgers University and Mark D’Amico of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, along with Peter Bahr of the University of Michigan and Di Xu of the University of California, Irvine, are investigating what data is available on noncredit programs at the state level. Through the State Noncredit Data Project, the researchers studied the data collected on noncredit offerings in Iowa, Louisiana, and Virginia.
They defined noncredit offerings to include occupational trainings that prepare students for employment, sponsored trainings developed for a particular employer or industry, pre-college programs such as GED preparation or ESL courses, and personal interest courses driven by local demand. Noncredit offerings might lead to completion of certificates from the colleges, industry certifications, occupational licensure, apprenticeships, and microcredentials, but they do not have to.
Here is what the researchers found from defining data elements, identifying what data is collected, and analyzing trends from the available data: