“Looking at the demographics of today’s student body, nontraditional is the new traditional.”
— Jamie Merisotis, Lumina Foundation for Education
Center for Professional Studies (CPS) at Lyndon State College aims to teach people new skills and advance careers through online, classroom-based, and hybrid programs enabling them to grow personally, excel in their careers, and enhance their communities. CPS serves three distinct markets: adults who have either not completed college or who have never attended higher education, working professionals wanting to upgrade their skills, and Lyndon students looking to earn industry-recognized credentials and their degree simultaneously. The concept grew out of a Lumina Foundation study that identified that 63,754 (19%) of Vermonters have “some college, no degree” as their highest level of educational attainment, a predictor of income earning potential. Most want and need a practical path to a sustainable livelihood. In today’s fast-paced, technology- rich work world, a pathway for continual skill upgrade is necessary for many professionals to remain competitive in the workforce. CPS fills the need of delivering education and credentialing services to prepare Vermonters during the critical years of induction into their profession and supporting professionals throughout their career to address the demands of evolving workplaces and fields.
As a key element of Lyndon’s total education strategy, CPS courses are designed to teach trusted professional content in a wide variety of topics, issues, and practical applications relevant to the contemporary workplace. This includes providing a bridge for Vermonters to link to nationally-recognized certificate programs that are a portable credential valued by employers. CPS also proactively collaborates with a dedicated base of local business/industry, community, and government organizations that serve as adult education promoters. This enables CPS to match potential job candidates with professional certification courses designed to address critical skill gaps in high growth industries eager to hire qualified workers.
A central function of the Center for Professional Studies is to contribute to increasing the level of post-secondary education non-degree attainment in the state of Vermont. This includes high-quality certificates as well as degrees. Lumina Foundation reports reliable national data showing that 4.9 percent of Americans hold a high-quality certificate as their highest credential. In Vermont, only one percent of residents between the ages of 25 and 64 hold a high-quality certificate. If Vermont set a goal of reaching at least the national certification attainment level, it would equate to 16,250 Vermonters. A 50% growth rate is required over the next five years to achieve this national level.
Lowering barriers for Vermonters to attain industry-recognized credentials is key to this goal. To this end, Lyndon State College launched the first Authorized Certiport Testing Center in Vermont in June 2016. This complements LSC’s inventory of American Hotel and Lodging certification education offered since the spring of 2016. The Certiport partnership now makes it possible to prepare Vermonters for future success in technology-driven learning and workforce environments through an in-state solution. As a strategic direction going forward, it is imperative that CPS continuously seeks to improve access to certification education and services for the Vermont adult population which currently does not enjoy the opportunity and benefits that accrue to those with post-secondary education credentials.
Ann Nygard, Director of Center for Professional Studies