To ensure Americans have the skills they need to land good jobs and compete globally, millions more people will need to earn high-quality degrees, certifications, and certificates after high school. In fact, Lumina believes that at least 11.6 million Americans ages 25–64 will need to obtain those credentials by 2025. The scope and scale of this goal demands that we think in new ways about learning beyond high school.
Today, Lumina is proud to release a Request for Information that is designed to help us identify new ways of meeting the goal. Specifically, we’re looking to learn more about how post-high school providers — colleges and universities, employers, workforce training providers, state systems, and consortia — are breaking through to recognize and validate the learning gained outside college courses, and to make sure that learning counts toward credentials of value.
Efforts have been underway for decades to improve recognition of learning, but they’ve never operated at the scale we need to dramatically improve the system. As a result, millions of learners who have gained competencies through military service, work-based learning, and through industry-recognized certifications, are systemically denied pathways into further education. And at a time of full-employment, when millions of jobs go unfilled due to talent shortages, we need to take bold action so adult learners can get credit for the college-level learning they already have.
Over the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with people who are gaining knowledge and skills outside of traditional higher education — through their employers, or through workforce training organizations. Many of these learners are unaware that the knowledge and skills these programs provide are at college level. And because their knowledge and experiences had never been recognized or validated in the higher education system, these learners rarely considered themselves to be college material.
It’s time for us to rethink the system and do better for adults, especially those who have worked hard to learn on the job, through the military and through industry-recognized certification programs.
We invite post-high school education providers of all kinds to look at the RFI, and to share your best ideas and practices. Lumina is excited to partner with providers who are committed to improving outcomes, to increasing fairness and justice in those outcomes, and to extending the promise of quality learning to all.