Non Credit Programs on Workforce Education Essay

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Several community colleges have in recent times shown preference for non-credit post-secondary students as opposed to credit students. This trait is particularly common in the areas of staff tutoring and contractor training. Several of these non-credit courses are quite popular for their flexibility in meeting the demands of the prospective workforce students as well as the demands of their employers. Important questions have been raised about traditional colleges due to the growth of this sector; these questions include the efficiency of colleges in utilizing resources and how well access is being provided for their (colleges) students. Answering the questions raised above will likely challenge state policies and practices at colleges, although analysing the effects of this program may be a herculean task due to the absence of data on activities as basic as admissions and acceptance in community college non-credit workforce education. With increasing states and college investments of resources on non-credit workforce education, increased outcome data collection will help to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs in addressing general state workforce and economic advancement requirements and also how well the needs of employers and students are being met. Connecting non-credit students to credit programs and more direct involvement of faculty members in non-credit education may more likely be facilitated by integrated organizational structures. Thus, adopting an integrated organizational structure as much as possible will possibly improve the ability of colleges to cater for their non-credit students, especially when they are supported by general state funds.


The achievements and mode of operation of non-credit workforce educational systems may be significantly dependent on the systems' position within the college's general structure. The colleges assessed for this study implement various organizational frameworks such as: decentralized systems in which non-credit is a separate unit in the college, and centralized systems in which non-credit programs are incorporated within the colleges' departments based on content area. Irrespective of the organizational framework in place, colleges utilize different strategies to attain synergy between programs and exhibit flexibility in their non-credit programs. Decentralized system of non-credit programs manages their activities by interactions within the college to enhance cooperation, prevent duplication and enable transitions between credit and non-credit programs. Several community colleges have started preferring non-credit post-secondary students to credit students. This trait is particularly common in the areas of staff tutoring and contractor training. A distinctive characteristic of these programs is their significant role in satisfying changing workforce requirements and making skills accessible in a manner that takes employer needs into consideration (Van Noy, Jacobs, Korey, Bailey, & Hughes, 2008). Within the last twenty years, there has been a considerable increase in the availability of non-credit courses in postsecondary education. Despite non-credit programs being described as having a potential for addressing educational parity, information such as academic results and the categories of students enrolled is quite scant (Xu & Ran, 2015).

Effects of Non-Credit Programs

The results of non-credit programs will vary due to various factors such as: enrolment patterns, institutional demands, and requirements of businesses and industry. Future employment and workforce training are significantly impacted by these programs. The overall college planning system or a funding structure involving an admission strategy for credit are also factors that can affect some of these outcomes. The development of a viable funding mechanism providing support for non-credit education is highly crucial and essential. The documented learning outcomes from enrolling in non-credit programs differ and achieve various needs since non-credit workforce education is not subject to the same academic guidelines that direct credit education. Specifying quantifiable outcomes for non-credit education helps institutions to meet needs more efficiently because there is flexibility due to the absence of regulations and an entrepreneurship-style approach can be implemented. Institutions have the freedom to design programs outcomes in relation to factors like economic changes and rising employability skills requirements (Calotescu, Eccles, Hughes, Picciano, & Sidd, 2014).

Learning is affected by adults' experiences in many ways. Individual uniqueness is engendered by adult experiences which provide an avenue for learning. Prejudices are created through experience which can mould, hinder or accelerate new learning. Also, adult experiences can be responsible for framing or even totally overhauling an adult's self-identity. It is not accidental that the Chancellor's office, the Academic Senate, the Legislature, and other professionals are displaying increasing interest in non-credit programs. The rapid population changes and reducing educational level affecting California society and her economy has been the focal point of many recent studies. A reaction to these studies is the involvement of non-credit programs in the increased interest in fundamental skills success and adult learners as a method of meeting the states workforce requirements.

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Obviously, a significant part will be played by non-credit programs in community colleges and adult education in K-12 districts in the efforts to tutor, train and employ the future workforce. California has an estimated two million students involved in non-credit programs and K-12 adult education. Non-credit programs (through community colleges) and adult education (through K-12) will play a crucial role as California's population grows more varied, with the influx of many new residents through immigration who will require English language education and job skills (Walton, Elliot, Illowsky, & Keech, 2009)

Motivations for Non-Credit Programs

The results of an in-depth study of for-credit entrepreneurship education openings in American community colleges was released by Elizabeth Hagan in 2004. This work, involving a comprehensive review of over 1,000 community college web sites and the evaluation of data obtained from 171 community college entrepreneurship education program directors, provides an important perception of the various curricula, instructional methods and formats that are characteristic of community college entrepreneurship education. Furthermore, the effect of geographic location, faculty characteristics and the institution's mission on entrepreneurship program growth and deterioration were also studied by Hagan. Included in her findings are review results which indicate that 73 of the 426 participating institutions (17%) provide entrepreneurship or small business management degree programs, 131 (31%) award entrepreneurship certificates, and 176 (41%) provide three or more courses in small business or entrepreneurship. Hagan's survey response analysis had the intention of determining the effects (if any) of geographic location, instructor characteristics or institutional mission on the creation and development of small business management programs and community college entrepreneurship. The data was carefully analysed and the analysis showed that the relationship between any of these factors and program growth is insignificant. In Hagan's words, "the primary outcome of the research is a determination that small business and entrepreneurship programs are as diverse as the communities and institutions that house them. They come into existence, grow, or decline and are characterized by factors that are more expansive than attitude, geography, or instructor characteristics. The diversity and trend towards establishment of new programs suggest that future research about entrepreneurship education is needed (Carducci, Calderone, McJunkin, Cohen, & Hayes, 2005).

1. Incorrect and Inadequate Information

Job seekers who are relatively advanced in age are quite ignorant about the required skills for getting a job, or the ways through which to get those skills. A myriad of certificate programs and degrees exist, offered by technical or vocational schools, colleges or universities, and community organizations or employer associations- for adults seeking education to choose from. Expectedly, there are wide variations in these options based on quality, cost and character. Organizations or websites hardly provide neutral and trustworthy information. Many Americans with various levels of education, occupations and job skills went through colossal economic turmoil during and after the Great Recession and adults possessing less tertiary education or lacking in job-relevant skills were hit the hardest. Job seekers in this category with low fundamental skills and education are more likely to require further education before they can return to work, this is partly because employers' skills and educational demands from workers are more than they were in the past. Another factor that may be an impediment to older job seekers is employers' requirements for staff possessing advanced computer and technology skills (Van Horn, Krepcio, & Heidkamp, 2015).

2. Who belongs in the 'Non-Traditional Students' Category?

The term "non-traditional" students is sometimes used to refer to adult students. For anyone to be termed non-traditional, they must fulfil one or more of the following criteria: late admission into postsecondary education (i.e. a different year as high school graduation), part-time attendance, fulltime employment in the course of being in school, financial independence, single parent, has dependents other than a spouse, or lacks a standard high school diploma. A variation in attributes and requirements exists however, even among non-traditional students, although others may have many or all of the aforementioned characteristics. The needs of adults in college are unique and they show a difference in engaging with college from traditional college students (college entrants immediately after high school). Past experiences, life histories, value sets and previous orientations all play an important role in their learning approaches, classroom experiences as a social engagement means, and utilization of information. Adults in college, due to the circumstances of their life rate work more importantly than school, apply….....

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Calotescu, A., Eccles, J., Hughes, N., Picciano, B., & Sidd, D. (2014). Non Credit Instruction: Improving Access to Higher Education and Success in Skills Attainment. Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Carducci, R., Calderone, S., McJunkin, K., Cohen, A., & Hayes, R. (2005). Non-Credit Entrepreneurship Education in Community Colleges: The National Perspective. UCLA Community College Studies.

Choi, L. (2009). Community Colleges and Workforce Development. Back to School and Back to Work.

Cortez, C., Fischthal, M., & Luedke, J. (2016). The Past, Present and Future of Noncredit Education in California. San Diego Continuing Education.


Mecom, A. (2016). Outstanding Community Education. Journal of the Association of Community and Continuing Education.

Sykes, A., Szuplat, M., & Decker, C. (2014). Availability of Data on Noncredit Education and Postsecondary Certifications. National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education.

Van Horn, C., Krepcio, K., & Heidkamp, M. (2015). Improving Education and Training for Older Workers. Future of Work.

Van Noy, M., & Heidkamp, M. (2013). Working for Adults: State Policies and Community College Practices to Better Serve Adult Learners at Community Colleges During the Great Recession and Beyond. NTAR Leadership Journal.

Van Noy, M., & Jacobs, J. (2009). The outlook for noncredit workforce education. New Directions for Community Colleges.

Van Noy, M., Jacobs, J., Korey, S., Bailey, T., & Hughes, K. (2008). Noncredit Enrollment in Workforce Education: State Policies and Community College Practices. Washington DC: American Association of Community Colleges and Community College Research Center.

Van Noy, M., Jacobs, J., Korey, S., Bailey, T., & Hughes, K. (2008). The Landscape of Noncredit Workforce Education: State Policies and Community College Practices. Community College Research Center.

Walton, I., Elliot, M., Illowsky, B., & Keech, G. (2009). Noncredit Instructions: Opportunity and Challenge. Academic Senate for California Community Journal.

Weise, M., & Christenson, C. (2014). Hire Education. Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.

Xu, D., & Ran, X. (2015). Noncredit Education in Community College: Students, Course Enrollments, and Academic Outcomes. Irvine: Community College Research Center.

Zafft, C., Kallenbach, S., & Spohn, J. (2006). Transitioning Adults to College: Adult Basic Education Program Models. NCSALL Paper Journal.

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