The Obama administration is rolling out an experimental plan that will allow employers and training programs to partner with accredited universities to teach students work-related skills. This pilot will enable students to receive federal financial aid for programs that are typically ineligible for these funds, like coding boot camps.
By pairing traditional universities with companies that train workers for in-demand fields like computer coding and advanced manufacturing, the U.S. Department of Education hopes to create a new model for delivering high-quality academic credentials to workers in a shorter period of time.
Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP), as the program is being called, is starting small: Just eight colleges and their non-academic collaborators will take part in the experiment and will educate up to 1,500 students. The program is also not ready to run immediately: The accreditors of the colleges and universities need to approve their plans, meaning they won’t debut until fall or spring of the upcoming school year.
Still, the effort may shed new light on how watchdogs can hold colleges accountable for the workforce success of their students. Unlike current evaluations that measure how well colleges educate their students, EQUIP will measure programs by the jobs students receive and their earnings.
Administration officials are framing the trial program as a new tool to address the growing gap in educational attainment and wages in the U.S. In addition to bachelor’s degrees, many employers are seeking workers with shorter-term certificates who are ready to enter into employment fully prepared. In response to that demand, a slew of education providers have emerged promising mastery of coding languages.