Building a Future-Ready Workforce

UTA-hosted summit highlights value of learning skills through microcredentialing

Thursday, Jun 20, 2024 • Neph Rivera : contact

UTA President Jennifer Cowley delivers remarks during DFW Summit" _languageinserted="true

Learning new skills does not end the day one earns their university diploma. Through microcredentials, students and professionals alike can brush up on areas they are familiar with or dive into something new to bolster their resume by completing short training programs.

Microcredentialing, skills-based learning, and the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace were the themes of a special conference hosted by The University of Texas at Arlington, in coordination with The University of Texas System, Coursera and Lightcast.

The DFW Summit: Building a Future Ready Workforce with a Skills-Based Approach, held at the UTA University Center, hosted regional business leaders, higher education executives and government officials and featured discussions on how microcredentialing is helping students develop high-demand skills and be prepared for future innovations.

“At UTA, we are focused on ensuring that this region and our students learn the high-demand industry skills that prepare them for coveted jobs with regional employers,” said UTA President Jennifer Cowley. “Combining a UT Arlington education with microcredential programs offering high-demand skills training prepares our students for a successful career in high-value positions.”

Last year, UTA announced a new partnership with Coursera, giving UTA students, employees and alumni free access to 40 professional certificates from companies such as Google, IBM and Meta. Nearly 2,800 Mavericks have since signed up, including 1,700 students, 635 alumni and 450 employees.

Photo of participants of DFW Summit speaking during a panel discussion

UTA’s Coursera offerings are part of the UT System’s Texas Credentials for the Future initiative, which includes more than 240,000 learners across nine UT System campuses.

When discussing the value of microcredentials, Archie Holmes, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs with UT System, cited a 2020 Lightcast study showing that history majors who earned a certificate on data analytics saw a 38% higher salary in their entry-level positions.

“We do see evidence that having these credentials makes a difference in that initial job placement,” Dr. Holmes said.

Through panel discussions covering topics including the practical application of skills in today’s workplace and the impact of AI in the workforce of the future, participants discussed how to best prepare students and workers to handle whatever challenges tomorrow’s jobs will bring.

“Sixty-one percent of tech workers are going to need to be retrained in the next three years and 90% of hiring managers are having a hard time finding the right skilled talent … There is this true need to build a culture of continual innovation,” said Charlotte Evans, principal solution consultant for Coursera.

“Instead of writing code all day, [those in more technical roles] are spending more time collaborating with their peers on code review, making sure the output makes sense and understanding the business context, such as ‘what is the problem we as a company are trying to solve with this code?’” said Caroline Effinger, senior manager of analytics and consulting for Lightcast.