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More Employers Are Awarding Credentials. Is A Parallel Higher Education System Emerging?


As the acceptance of new types of credentials grows, a number of employers have become learning providers in their own right, in a way that could shake up the broader higher education landscape.

A growing number of companies have moved beyond training their own employees or providing tuition assistance programs to send staff members to higher education. Many of these employers are also developing their own curricula and rapidly expanding their publicly-facing credential offerings.

It’s not hard to find prominent examples:

• Google recently announced an expansion of the company’s popular Google Career Certificates portfolio. This includes 100,000 scholarships and will grow the initiative’s employer hiring network to 130 partners.

• IBM runs a digital badging program
, now in its seventh year, that has awarded 3.7 million credentials to date, growing at a 61 percent pace from 2019 to 2020.

• Hubspot, the marketing giant, issues its own certifications and partners with colleges to integrate them into curriculum, and certification issuance was up approximately 70 percent in 2020.

And the evidence that new credentials are here to stay is growing. Strada Education Network’s recent national consumer surveys have found that the most popular option for American adults considering additional education […]

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