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Creating Learning Opportunities with Work Readiness in Mind

While we may not be able to predict the types of jobs that will exist in the future, we know that students will need a variety of skills to match these evolving needs. So, how do we create learning opportunities that not only teach students valuable skills but also serve the workforce?

Solution: Competency-Based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is a learning model built with “work readiness” in mind. CBE programs often award a degree or certificate, but what differentiates them is that the competencies learned are as important as the credential itself. The courses, assessments, and learning pathways that make up these programmes are centred on what is expected of professionals in a specific industry or job. CBE programmes are based on a strategic partnership with employers and industry to produce learning experiences that are relevant to and align with today’s job market.

CBE Programmes to Develop and Build on Student Skills

CBE programmes are not limited solely to undergraduate degrees in universities and colleges. Rather, this educational model opens the door for a variety of programmes, to help develop and build on student skills. Below we outline four academic and educational qualifications that can use CBE.


Micro-credentials are an alternative way to integrate competency-based education. Micro-credentials can be called “mini qualifications.” They are a form of certification that demonstrates the mastery of relevant skills, knowledge, and competencies. CBE micro-credentials can function as an effective type of professional development, providing students and working professionals with new skills and strategies to effectively meet the needs of a changing workforce.

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Managing Risk: How Higher Education Institutions Are Creating Sustainable CBE Programs

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Stackable Credentials

Stackable credentials can be earned to help learners build on their qualifications and move along career paths. With this type of learning, students can start with one credential achievement and work their way up to a higher-level credential by building on specific skills. Stackable credentials also allow academic institutions to offer incremental milestones such as badges on the path to completion. The overall structure of these types of credentials allows learners to build on in-demand skills while also working.

Non-degree Credentials

Non-degree credentials are certificates or programmes that are typically offered through community colleges, technical schools, and professional or trade associations to provide professionally oriented training. The output of these programmes consists of badges, licenses, and short-term certificates that help students demonstrate the applied knowledge and competencies they have achieved.

CBE Certificates

CBE certificates focus on measuring how much a student has learned rather than the time he or she spends trying to learn. These certificate programmes differ from traditional higher education programmes in that the time to complete these programmes rests on a learner’s prior knowledge and experience along with how many classes he or she enrols in per semester. These certificates can help working professionals learn new skills and expand their knowledge base without disrupting the work they’re already doing. Earning certificates can also support students and new graduates in starting a new career by gaining new skills.

Learn How Higher Education Institutions Are Creating Sustainable CBE Programmes

CBE, like other innovative education models, is not for the faint of heart. Besides being an educational model, CBE is a business model that requires a good deal of planning, preparation, negotiation, and institutional resources and commitment.

This webinar will focus on what institutions are doing to create sustainable CBE programming and the lessons learned along the way as well as leverage recent findings from the National Survey of Postsecondary CBE conducted by Eduventures and the American Institutes of Research.

Watch Managing Risk: How Higher Education Institutions Are Creating Sustainable CBE Programs webinar now

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