A new non-credit certificate program offered by the University of Utah is designed to help recent graduates expand their employment options. The Degree Plus certificates, which begin in fall 2017, focus on teaching skills needed for careers in high-demand areas, including operations, content marketing, instructional design, data analysis and digital communications.
The certificate program was developed based on research indicating that pairing technical skills with a liberal arts background can nearly double the jobs available to graduates, as well as increase their salaries. Additionally, program developers consulted with local employers to identify skills they value in new hires.
“Utah’s booming software and technology sector is facing one primary headwind to its phenomenal growth rate: A limited supply of tech-ready talent,” said Bassam Salem, a Degree Plus program advisor, CEO of AtlasRTX and vice chairman of the Utah Technology Council. “The University of Utah’s Degree Plus program is a genuinely innovative approach to preparing a large number of existing and diversely-skilled college graduates with technology careers.”
Each Degree Plus certificate takes between seven and eight weeks to complete. Classes are taught by industry experts in the evenings, with some Saturday classes. To help participants determine if the program is a good fit for their goals, students have the option to attend the first class for free. Additionally, all Degree Plus students have access to one-on-one career coaching specific to the certificate program.
“Having local professionals teach classes not only gives students a real-world perspective, but also helps them build connections in the industry,” said Andrea Miller, associate director Professional Pathways for Professional Education at the U. “We believe education is a lifelong endeavor, and these certificates are designed to be the first step in continuing to develop professionally and to maximize the value of their degree after graduation.”
Once students complete the course successfully, the certificate will appear on their official transcript, they will receive a University of Utah Professional Education certificate and they can claim a digital badge that can be shared on social media and on digital resumes. Digital badges are embedded with meta-data that allow employers to click for more information about the individuals’ achievement.
“Academic institutions are increasingly tasked to create connections between learning outcomes and workforce readiness,” said Pete Janzow, senior director of Acclaim, the digital recognition platform used by the U. “We’re pleased to partner with the University of Utah to provide students with digital badges that communicate competencies with full context and verification, while also offering learning pathways and job opportunities based on an individual’s skills.”
In addition to recent graduates, these certificates are also open to experienced professionals who want to add new skills to their portfolio, change career paths or for individuals looking for experience in a new area before attending grad school. More information about the certificates can be found at degreepluscertificate.com. A career matchmaker quiz is available to help those interested determine which certificate best fits their interests.