The distance between private training providers and public universities and colleges has narrowed significantly in the last three years. Thanks to a boom in partnerships, online career-focused training is getting closer to being embedded within college curricula rather than existing as its own separate credential and certificate program.
The trend is still limited to a handful of partnerships, but the move to include private career training programs in public college and university portfolios is accelerating. Schools are branding the training programs and offering them to adult and continuing education students through their catalog.
Being able to provide a credible training program that fits neatly into extension programs and continuing education helps expand the variety of offerings for students, especially non-traditional students who may want to be affiliated with a university but for whom the traditional four-year degree program is not an option due to time investment or cost. According to research from University Professional and Continuing Education Association, institutions are reviewing their existing programs to tighten the pathway to certifications and jobs. Private training providers are one way to create those pathways.
We at MedCerts, one of those private career education institutions focused on IT and healthcare, recently announced partnerships with several four-year public universities. Among them are the University of Tennessee, Ball State in Indiana and, more recently, the University of Maryland Global Campus. We are on pace to have nearly a dozen public school partners by the end of 2023.
Improving the quality and fidelity of online training programs
Cutting-edge technology is closing the quality gap between private training providers and higher education
Students, parents and employers once assumed that university and community college courses and programs were of higher quality than those from private training providers. However, skills-based training courses coupled with exciting new interactive technologies that appear lifelike makes this no longer the case. Online training programs have grown in sophistication and relevancy and can offer certifications whose timely and specific skills lead to employment.
Both sectors face pressure to adapt
Many local training providers that once set up shop in strip malls and office parks have closed their doors, casualties of the pandemic and inability to capitalize on new technologies. Furthermore, universities are under pressure from the public and the federal government to be more career-responsive by offering more programs that directly lead to jobs.
Convenience for students and colleges
Using an outside provider’s existing programs—one that thousands of people have taken—is easier than building one at the university and can be offered immediately.
Similarly, staff at university extension offices scrutinize these private programs in a way that an individual relying on word-of-mouth and reviews in Consumer Reports cannot or would not do. Having them offered through a university extension program boosts a student’s confidence in the quality of the program and its intended outcomes.
New program pathways
Colleges have the opportunity to market themselves better to potential students who are skeptical about higher education. Specifically, they have the chance to align private training programs with for-credit programs. This allows students to pursue a skills-based certificate that can lead to a job and earn credits toward a college degree.
Franklin University is a model in this regard, with several options for students to pursue training with private training providers through their FranklinWORKS Marketplace.
Ultimately, the trend to bring online training programs into the fold of universities helps everyone, adding revenue and enrollment numbers to a college’s bottom line while simultaneously expanding the career track offerings students need.
And these days, we need as many options for students as possible.