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Workforce Readiness

University of Texas and Coursera Expand Free Microcredential Program for Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni

The University of Texas (UT) system and Coursera have partnered to offer an expanded, free microcredential program to any UT students, educators, staff, and alumni interested in obtaining microcredential certificates to help prepare them for new workforce demands. This is part of UT's Texas Credentials for the Future initiative and will give over 240,000 learners across nine UT campuses access to Coursera's Career Academy.

The Career Academy includes 35 entry-level professional certificates from tech companies such as Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Salesforce, Coursera said, calling it "the most extensive industry-recognized microcredential program from a U.S. university system."

UT and Coursera launched the pilot program of this initiative to select students in December 2022.

"In the first semester, approximately 3,000 students spent 30,000 hours learning online, completing over 6,000 courses," the company said.

In the Career Academy, learners can explore varied careers, such as data analyst, cybersecurity analyst, UX designer, application developer, and social media marketer. They can practice and use their skills and workplace tools in real-world applications, which can increase their job qualifications.

"Microcredentials are a powerful and effective tool in producing graduates who are both broadly educated and specifically skilled, giving them a competitive edge in the labor market while also enhancing their overall undergraduate experience," said James B. Milliken, UT system chancellor.

By 2030, over 60% of Texas jobs will require a higher education degree or certificate, according to a 2022 report by the Texas Commission on Community College Finance, and currently, over half of Texans lack such training.

"We're excited to partner with the University of Texas System to equip 240,000 Texans with in-demand industry skills, supporting local employment and the state's economy," said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO. "This system-wide industry microcredential program sets an innovative blueprint for the future of higher education."

Participating universities are busy adding professional certificates into their curriculum, Coursera said. Some innovations include incorporating data analytics and project management certificates in criminal justice courses at UT Tyler. Other schools, like UT Dallas Jindal School of Business, give extra credit for certificate course completion in business analytics and IT management.

Visit the UT System microcredentials page to learn more about Texas Credentials for the Future and credential courses available at UT academic institutions.

Go here to learn more about Coursera for Campus.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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