5 Reasons Educators Are Embracing Professional Certifications

Only 15% of companies believe they have the skills needed to succeed when it comes to digital, leadership and management skills. Considering the demand for these type of roles in businesses across industries, that’s a worrying statistic.

Students now want to learn skills that will help them succeed in the workforce and as a result are looking to certifications that can provide them with industry aligned skills. While employers now place more emphasis on specialized skills that can be applied to a job instantly and have an impact on the bottom line of their business.

For educators, this provides a unique opportunity to offer certifications that focus on specialisms that can make a difference in people’s professional lives and help companies fill the knowledge gaps in their business. In return, educational institutions can tap into new markets, attract students and introduce new revenue streams.

In this article, we explore 5 reasons certification is growing in importance for those wanting to diversify and excel in the education industry.

1) Link to job market needs

When it comes to skills such as digital what an individual knows needs to tie in with what is required in companies – big and small. For educators, instead of focusing on what has proven popular or successful in the past, institutions need to look at what type of programs deliver the best return on investment for students looking to enter or progress in the workforce.

In the past, educational institutions have been criticized for not providing graduates with work-ready skills. In many cases, this has meant that graduates leave a university or college with knowledge that is not applicable to roles and are lacking in other areas such as analyzing complex problems, working with statistics and innovation. As a result, many graduates need to return to education in order to gain the knowledge they need to compete in the workforce.

Certifications can provide students with specialized skills that can be applied instantly to a role. In addition, industry validated certifications can provide students with access to subject matter experts they may not have had access to before. Above all, on graduation, certified professionals can prove the quality and relevance of their knowledge to employers in order to stand out from the crowd at interview or when an opportunity for promotion arises. 

2) Provide in-demand skills

Provide in-demand skills

In the face of new digital technologies and the need for businesses to undergo digital transformation, the skills needed in the workplace are constantly changing. To keep up with this ever evolving environment, students need access to learning programs that are relevant and up-to-date in order to ensure their skills are relevant to the marketplace

Unfortunately, many employers report finding the right talent very challenging. According to research from Randstad, 79% of HR Managers agree they struggle to find people with skills that match the requirements of the job while three-quarters of companies agree it takes more time to fill positions than it did the previous year. And this goes from industry to industry on a global scale.

For universities and colleges, the issue in providing the skills people need is that the pace of change can be a challenge as updating syllabus at the same pace is often difficult in the traditional system. Certifications that are in line with what companies need are the ideal way to create employees - future and current - that are cross-disciplined and possess practical and foundational knowledge that will help them perform better in their job. 

3) Add a new dimension to your offering

Add a new dimension to your offering

As the skills required by businesses have moved on, some offerings by educators have not adapted to keep up. As roles become more specialized - think data scientist or bot developer - students are now looking for learning opportunities in niche areas that can boost their careers and wage packet.

Diversifying your portfolio to include specialized certifications can help you tap into a new market of professionals and target a tranche of recent graduates you would not have previous access to. In addition, offering online learning that leads to certification now presents great opportunities to provide students with flexible and interactive content that can be accessed from anywhere at anytime, particularly in such a time starved world.

Take digital skills for example. While it once may have been enough to have a working knowledge of social media and analytics, now companies expect a deeper level of understanding and a capacity to extract useful information that can help organizations engage with customers and convert interest into a purchase. These level of skills need to be learned from experts with experience in the field and know-how on what the outputs can mean to a business.

4) Stand out from competitors

Cohesive content and student value results in a stronger financial gain; it is much easier to sell a certificate than a single course. Once a program has a solid track record, a crowning mark of success is its influence on an industry" – Paul Marca, Executive Director of the Stanford Center for Professional Development

It’s not easy to stand out from competitors in an industry with many programs on offer. Students have high expectations and understand what they need from a course or certification. The bottom line is that education should provide insight into a particular area and the working knowledge needed to excel so educators need to offer something over and above what their competitors are.

Just like companies looking to attract and convert customers, educational institutions need to prove their worth as a brand. After all recognition in the marketplace along with a presence online - the very place that students will be looking for information on courses - can help engage students and drive enrollments.

Take the University of Westminster. With a 177- year old legacy as an international university, it had brand recognition but realized that students wanted skills that made them desirable to employers. Listening to the needs of their students, they made the decision to offer digital marketing to the portfolio of the Business School to tap into what their students wanted. By offering a short digital marketing course along with integrating learning content into their Master program they tapped into a market of professionals and recent graduates that wanted particular skills to move into or progress in their desired career.

5) Offer continuous development

Skills are not just learned through one course or workshop, they need to be nurtured and boosted on a regular basis to ensure that a student’s knowledge is current and relevant to today’s workplace. Certifications can offer a way for educators to provide specialist knowledge and different levels of expertise from foundation through to expert level.

Many people today consider ongoing learning as important with 73% of US adults considering themselves lifelong learners. For those in employment 63% label themselves as professional learners in that they have taken a course of additional training to improve their job skills or expertise connected to career progression.

With such a thirst for development, educators that provide valuable continuous learning programs can tap into a huge market. In addition, there is an appetite amongst today’s employees who want to advance their careers from executive level to senior management.

Students no longer take the traditional route to employment such as earning a degree and move into a role related to their qualification. Certifications provide a way for recent graduates and working professionals to bridge the gap between the knowledge they have and the skills employers need. 

Choosing the right certification can not only boost an induvidual's skillset but helps them land that dream job or earn a promotion. Educators that offer the right professional certifications can tap into new markets, boost enrollments and become leaders in their field. 

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Ian Dodson
Co-Founder @ Digital Marketing Institute