By Dr. Patrick Bennett, vice president, academic quality and planning and dean of the School of Education, Franklin University.
According to a US News Report, there will be a shortage of over 400,000 home health aides, almost 100,000 nursing assistants and lab techs, and almost 30,000 nurse practitioners in the coming years. A study from Elsevier found that 47 percent of medical workers surveyed plan to seek a new job in the next two or three years.
Not only is there a worker shortage in healthcare, people want more options in choosing how they prepare – an educational degree or a skills-based training program – for that career. We’ve come to the point where offering new pathways to employment are not only a nice option to offer, they are essential. Because the training required for healthcare employment is constantly evolving, these pathways must be responsive to industry and market needs. That means taking a new look at how traditional higher education and skill-based training work together.
Giving students flexible, practical options
Franklin University serves mostly adult, non-traditional students. These are typically career-oriented individuals who are very practical and seek to use their time as efficiently as possible. For them, education is not solely focused on getting a bachelor’s degree. It’s often about what can I use right away? Our programs have served students seeking full degree programs, but now we also offer skills-based programs. What we’ve sought to do, however, is to also stay true to our roots as a degree-granting institution, making it easy for students to apply their job training work toward degree credit they can pursue simultaneously or in the future.
As we say on campus, any school can get you started. Franklin can help you finish. In addition to awarding credit for specialized skill-development courses, we also evaluate practical experience such as what a student might bring from military credit, direct work experience, industry-recognized certifications, or previously earned coursework regardless of the institution. We believe that such life experience and practical, applied knowledge is valuable, so we address each student’s experience individually and consider how that experience translates into coursework that can count for credit. This is called articulated credit or sometimes prior learning credit and it is changing how skills training and traditional education work together.
As a result of our approach, students can begin their education journey through our FranklinWORKS Marketplace, get a professional certification, and then later leverage that same coursework toward a degree. For example, a student can be in the field working as an X-ray tech or pharmacy tech, and then later complete a degree by building on the original courses they took to get their certification.