How ‘stackable credentials’ can help shore up Colorado’s workforce
MSU Denver’s Career Launchpad program expands, offering new pathways to high-demand professions.
What if one class could change the trajectory of your career?
That’s the premise of the new Career Launchpad at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Known as a “stackable credentials” program, the Career Launchpad allows students to complete a noncredit class at a low tuition rate. That class alone could help advance or start a new career, or students can choose to convert the course into credits and continue with more courses to earn a certificate or bachelor’s degree.
The program’s goal is to “offer more on- and off-ramps into and out of higher education,” said Terry Bower, associate vice president of Innovative and Lifelong Learning at MSU Denver.
“We know that there’s increasingly a number of individuals who don’t have the time, interest or inclination to get a bachelor’s degree,” she said. “But they still want to learn; they still want to get smarter; they want to get a credential that will help them.
“We also know that there are a lot of individuals who don’t even see themselves in higher education. They feel left out completely. So how do they get into higher education, and how do they even know how to start without spending too much money and resources in the beginning?
That’s a question the state legislature took up this year, passing a bill that encourages other colleges and universities to create more stackable-credential pathways in higher education.
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The Career Launchpad works like this: Let’s say you’ve been thinking about starting (or transitioning into) a career in a high-demand field such as health care or cybersecurity. At MSU Denver, you can take an affordable introductory class in that subject online at your own pace.
After successfully completing the noncredit class, you’ll receive a digital badge embedded with the competencies learned that you can include on your résumé or LinkedIn page or in your portfolio. That alone might be enough to propel you into the workforce or advance an existing career.
“People want chunks of knowledge,” Bower said. “Employers are also, in many cases, starting to see value in these smaller chunks of content, whether it’s a credential certificate or something else.”
And if you want to take another step, you can convert the class to credit and work toward a certificate or full bachelor’s degree at MSU Denver, which launched the stackable-credentials program with a course in Health Navigation Fundamentals. Courses in cybersecurity, space flight operations, business, design thinking and public health are planned for the fall 2022 semester, and offerings in construction project management, addiction studies and advanced manufacturing set to come online for the spring 2023 semester.
The graphic below, using the Health Navigation Fundamentals course as an example, illustrates multiple pathways that students can take in the Career Launchpad program.