Micro-Credential Program Through College of Charleston

Micro-Credential Program Through College of Charleston

In a time when employers are increasingly questioning the value of a college degree, some schools are offering vocational courses that have a direct impact on the marketability of their stakeholders.

For the last year, College of Charleston has made available at no cost to students, alumni, faculty and employees the opportunity to access skill-building micro-credential courses though the global online learning platform Coursera. The Career Academy on Coursera includes more than 45 entry-level professional certificates from leading companies such as Google, IBM, Microsoft and Salesforce.

Improving Skills, Improving Career Prospects

Coursera claims employers are 72% more likely to hire a candidate with a professional certificate than without one, and a study by the market analytics company Lightcast found that acquiring the kinds of skills available on Coursera boost earnings, particularly for liberal arts majors. For example, sociology majors who get certified in UX/UI (user experience) design skills can increase their entry level salaries by 63%. For English majors who gain project management skills, the salary hike is 16% and earning an IT management credential is worth 20% to psychology majors.

These numbers are best seasoned with a shaker-full of salt, but they suggest that the value of a bachelor’s degree can be intensified with specific in-demand workplace skills.

“Coursera’s Career Academy gives our employees the opportunity not just to learn new skills, but to earn credentials that will give them a competitive edge in their careers here at the College and beyond,” said Ed Pope, vice president of human resources at the College. It does the same for graduates and alumni as well.

Paying Dividends for Those Who Take the Initiative

Haylea Shuman is a music performance major and business management minor at the College, scheduled to graduate in 2024. She completed courses related to human resources that could propel her into that career. By earning credentials in Compensation and Benefits, Talent Acquisition, Managing Employee Files, and Create an Employee Feedback Survey with TypeForm, Shuman said, “I have been called into more interviews and have been contacted by recruiting agencies,” while still an undergraduate.

Hundreds of CofC Graduates in the First Year

These high-quality, asynchronous online courses consist of a series of modules with 10-minute video segments, readings, assignments and assessments that can be used to supplement content. They cover a wide range of skills, as diverse as cybersecurity analysis and social media marketing. More than half the 33 career paths pay in excess of six figures. Participants can access them on their own schedules.

The school is marketing the program internally as a value add it offers students, alumni and staff. As of the end of the spring semester of 2024, 593 individuals had completed courses through the CofC-Coursera partnership, with hundreds more in the pipeline.

Ann Baldwin, office manager at the College libraries has taken advantage of the partnership to enhance her own resume and skill base, completing courses in Salesforce SV Academy, Practical Guide to Navigating Professional Relationships, and Getting Started with Microsoft Excel. “Any efforts at betterment and continuing education are an enhancement to my resume as a demonstration of my continuing quest for knowledge,” she said.

The full list of available courses and their descriptions can be found here.