As educational institutions, industries and other organizations develop career and education pathways through stackable credentials, credential holders, employers, students and communities are often confused about navigating the stackable credentialing process. This article highlights some promising models from across the nation as the industry driven momentum for stackable credentials continues to increase in the labor market.

The New York legislature passed a bill enacting the Excelsior Scholarship on April 7th. The program, designed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, provides tuition-free college at New York public universities to families making up to $125,000 a year. Although other states offer free community college, New York is the first state to fully subsidize tuition at both two and four-year universities.

Maryland Delegate Cory McCray is currently sponsoring a bill moving through the House of Delegates entitled the POWER (Providing Our Workers with Education and Readiness) Apprenticeship Act (House Bill 467). As a graduate of a 5-year apprenticeship program, McCray has been a long-standing advocate for state expansion of apprenticeship legislation.


CSG Midwest
The switch from military to civilian life holds many challenges, but a partnership of Midwestern states is hoping to ease this transition by using a service member’s military experience to increase postsecondary degree completion and streamline pathways for earning professional certification.
The Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit is coordinated by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, a nonprofit organization serving 13 states in the region.

As state leaders outline their goals for 2016, educators and policymakers will look for strategies that ensure America’s students receive a high-quality education while addressing workforce challenges that inhibit economic growth.  2016 promises to be another busy year in transformational strategies in education.  State leaders will likely address these top 5 issues facing states this year:

CSG Director of Education Policy Elizabeth Whitehouse and Senior Policy Advisor Jeff Stockdale outline the top five issues in education policy for 2016, including college access and affordability, Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, WIOA implementation, and student veterans. 

A 2014 report by the National Skills Coalition said middle-skill jobs—those that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree—account for 54 percent of the United States’ labor market, but only 44 percent of the country’s workers are qualified for these types of positions. One way the skills gap—the gap between skills that employers seek and the skills available in the workforce—can be decreased is to use stackable credentials to improve worker capabilities and competencies. This FREE eCademy webcast, presented by the CSG National Task Force on Workforce Development and Education, highlights innovative programs that are helping students gain the competencies they need by offering stackable credentials and credits for talent development.

Veterans are enrolling in postsecondary education institutions in large numbers, most of them with extensive occupational experience. Many colleges use Prior Learning Assessments to award academic credit when the knowledge and skills an individual has gained outside the classroom--including employment, military training and service, civic activities, and volunteer service--can be matched to college-level coursework. Veterans who earn credit for general courses are able to complete their degrees in a shorter period of time, reducing...

State officials and policymakers have been focused on college- and career-readiness for several years yet challenges still exist to graduate students with the skills and competencies necessary to obtain sustainable employment. 2015 promises to be another busy year concentrated on implementing best practices and enacting innovative policies that prepare America's youngest students for entry into school, create environments for all students including those at-risk, and offer a variety of experiences so students participate in work-based opportunities. In order to ensure a world-class education for all students, leaders will likely address these top 5 issues facing states this year.

Wendy Lewis went from military service to school and seemed to be lacking one key to success in life outside the Army—structure. Lewis recently participated on a student panel during a Council of State Governments Policy Academy, “Veterans Initiatives: Increasing Educational Attainment.” The goal of the five panels, according to Marshall Thomas, director of Veterans Affairs Services at California State Long Beach and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was to discuss how to go beyond simply saying “thank you for your service,” and how to best help veterans achieve educational success.

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