Micro-credentialing for maximum achievement

By Danielle Kobryn

An initiative at a Suffern, New York, college will give students an advantage in an evolving economy

A new micro-credentialing initiative at Rockland Community College (RCC) will help students distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace.

Micro-credentials can allow students to upskill and gain specific knowledge in emerging fields. They also promote professional growth for students in a new distance economy.

RCC currently offers credit-bearing micro-credentials in several programs: hospitality and culinary arts, front office management, IT support professional and the fitness trainer and sports nutritional specialist programs.

Additional micro-credentials are in development for in-demand industries. RCC plans to use digital badging and e-portfolio systems to teach students how to display their accomplishments on social media platforms.

“This initiative is about meeting the needs of our students, our employers and ultimately supporting the economic development of our society,” RCC President Michael A. Baston said in a release. “We are closing the skills gap for students and employers, and our programs provide students with employability skills and credentials to become competitive in their job search in the current economic climate.”

The Incremental Credentialing Model was developed through an 18-month planning, research and testing project, supported through a Lumina Foundation grant: Credential as You Go (CAYG).

Many paths

In the hospitality and culinary arts program, students take a set of three to four college courses to earn a micro-credential and digital badge for baking fundamentals, baking specialization or food preparation. A ServSafe certification, accredited by the National Restaurant Association, is required for the culinary micro-credentials, and is offered at the college as well.

“Employers are contacting us daily to find employees with these specific skills because the demand is so high,” said Chris Spezial, program director of the hospitality and culinary arts program.

The front office management micro-credential prepares emerging managers to handle the new norms of the workforce. The courses to earn the micro-credential are offered fully online. Students can stack the micro-credential and earn a business degree in 12, 18 or 24 months.

The IT support professional – desktop support micro-credential prepares students for an entry-level role in IT support. Students will earn certifications in TestOut Client Pro and TestOut PC Pro. And the IT support professional – networking and security micro-credential builds on the desktop support program.

Both micro-credentials lead to a degree in cybersecurity at the Center for Cyber Defense Education.

As a fitness trainer, individuals have the opportunity to work in commercial centers or form their own business conducting personal training sessions. Students will study how to assess clients and develop training programs to meet personal fitness goals and understand the effects of exercise on the human body.

Fitness trainers also can expand their expertise in fitness and sport to become a certified sports nutrition specialist. Students earn a personal trainer certification or sports nutrition certification accredited by the National Council on Strength and Fitness.

Additionally, RCC formalized student success programs in both soft and durable skills to ensure students are prepared for the ever-evolving workplace. Registered students can take five one-hour workshops to earn a micro-credential in college essentials, career essentials, and workplace essentials.

RCC also is offering professional development opportunities for its employees through the micro-credentialing programs. Currently, advising ambassador and learning management system specialization courses are being offered.

Danielle Kobryn

is executive director of strategic marketing at Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York.