“Policy discussions often position workforce education and traditional college as being in opposition—a zero-sum game where you’re either for degrees and view short-term credentials as a threat, or you think college is broken and should be ditched for apprenticeships or other alternatives.
This binary thinking presents a false dilemma, according to Julie Peller, executive director of Higher Learning Advocates and a former Democratic staffer for the Committee on Education and Labor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
‘We can move beyond degrees or credentials,’ Peller says.
Higher Learning Advocates just rolled out a campaign to better connect policies on workforce training and postsecondary education. With the backing of 25 groups, including the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association and Advance CTE, the platform seeks to “widen the path” by recognizing all learning that promotes economic mobility.
A more inclusive view of higher learning begins with thinking about it as more than a one-and-done experience, says Peller.
‘The reality is learners are earning multiple credentials throughout their lives—in the classroom, in the workplace, and online,’ she says. ‘If we stop thinking about an individual’s ‘one chance’ at higher education, it’s easier to consider a ‘both/and’ approach.’
Peller says current policies and systems force people into making a choice between enrolling in a long-term degree program or pursuing short-term training to enter the job market more quickly.”