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Certificates have swelled to become the second most common postsecondary award in the U.S.: Over 1 million are awarded each year. In the context of concerns about rising college costs and student loan debt, certificates, which are cheaper and take less time to complete than college degrees, have become of increasing interest to researchers, institutions, and other stakeholders in higher education.

In this report, Anthony P. Carnevale, Stephen J. Rose, and Andrew R. Hanson of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University analyze earnings by field of study, sex, race/ethnicity, and program length. One of the most important factors that affects earnings is whether certificate holders work in the same occupational field they studied in.

The authors also take a close look at the demographic characteristics of certificate holders: sex, race/ethnicity, age, educational attainment, academic preparation/skill, family income, and parents' education.

Last, the authors analyze the institutions that most commonly award certificates—such as community colleges and for-profit institutions—and the states where certificates are most prevalent and provide the highest earnings returns.

2012
Anthony P. Carnevale, Stephen J. Rose, and Andrew R. Hanson
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

This paper discusses the importance of effective training and workforce development programs as part of a broader strategy to increase the competitiveness of American workers. Although rapid technological change and increasing global competition have delivered great economic benefits to the U.S. economy overall, the development of new and more productive industries has caused some Americans to experience significant declines in their earnings and job prospects; the Great Recession exacerbated these longer-term trends. Workers with less education and those who have been displaced from long-tenured jobs face particular challenges, and effective job training programs are an important component of policies to help these workers.

The Hamilton Project proposes two general principles that can guide policy-makers in improving training programs to aid American workers:

1) Training funds should be directed to programs with a track record of success in improving earnings for the specific target population and to those workers who can benefit the most from those programs; and

2) Training programs should directly engage employer and industry partners, or actively guide students to career-specific training.

 

 

2011
Michael Greenstone, Adam Looney
The Brookings Institute

This report highlights programs in 14 communities that are successfully addressing the challenge of providing disadvantaged young adults with the technical and postsecondary education that may qualify them for skilled positions.

Maureen R. Bozell and Melissa Goldberg
Workforce Strategy Center