Can colleges effectively launch online workforce development programs quickly?

More than 20 prepackaged courses were recently launched by Stetson University, but these will soon be complemented by more in-depth classes

Stetson University has launched the foundation of a revitalized workforce development program featuring over 20 prepackaged online workforce training courses that the Florida institution plans to strengthen with more in-depth offerings led by faculty.

“Our professional and corporate education program had lost its focus in the last year, so my task has been to bring it back to vibrancy,” says Bud Hanson, an adjunct professor who recently became executive director of Professional and Corporate Education (PaCE). “Faculty-led courses are very slow to develop, and since many of our professors are busy teaching other classes, we decided to vet prepackaged options to quickly get these solutions out there since the demand for workforce development is high as people spend more time online, rethinking their career path or wanting to fill skill gaps in their resume.”

Hanson hopes to add up to six faculty-led courses to PaCE that offer in-depth workshops sooner rather than later. “Our goal is to have these initial online workforce development courses become the minority of our total catalog as we offer broader, more strategic topics, such as women in business and workplace cultures,” says Hanson. “We pushed a little harder to launch PaCE earlier than we originally planned due to COVID-19 to come out with some solutions during a time when demand is high.”

Why online workforce development courses?

In the fall, Hanson began vetting providers that offered open-access and asynchronous courses before choosing MindEdge, a company that provides for-credit courses and student success products. “Our faculty did not have an expertise in this, and while seated classes are what we’re good at, that might not always align with the needs of the worker,” he says. “They have family, work travel needs and perhaps open access where they have a year to complete a certificate at their pace.”

He adds, “We are quickly moving to create courses that fit our brand because if you are just competing with the online course market, our fear is that it’s a race to the bottom where education becomes a bit of a commodity, and I don’t want to play that game.”

# 3. Expanding The Impact of Workforce Development to Other Communities‡’

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