About NSC Programs
Industry is experiencing a shortage of mid-skill workers in the high-growth Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector. Meanwhile, in a changing labor market and difficult economy, many workers face displacement, unemployment, or underemployment. Certificate programs are an underutilized solution. Research shows that high-quality, sub-baccalaureate certificates of one year or longer, especially in fields like technology, offer good labor market returns, can “significantly boost the likelihood of student academic and career success,” and are “consistently linked to increased earnings.” Economic and family circumstances may prevent displaced workers from retraining for a new career or limit recent high school graduates when training for their first career job. The NSC aims to bridge the STEM skills gap, connect workers to industry, and strengthen the STEM pipeline by offering innovative occupational training that takes students' limiting circumstances into account.
The NSC developed five one-year, 30-credit innovative STEM certificate programs in high-demand fields:
Why is the NSC unique?
One of the most innovative educational strategies that the NSC developed to improve the completion and success rates of students is the creation of a two-part STEM “Bridge” program.
The first STEM Bridge Strategy is to embed competency development into the technical curriculum instead of using a traditional pre-program approach to developmental education. This was accomplished through the development of an innovative STEM Readiness course which integrates basic skills, workforce skills, computer skills, and job readiness training contextualized within the STEM pathways.
STEM Readiness Scenarios and Learning Outcomes (PPTX)
The STEM Readiness course is programmatically consistent across the five fields and transferable to other colleges and it focuses on the development of critical key skills identified by all of the technical teams.
- The second STEM Bridge Strategy is a foundational component that provides an accelerated pathway into the newly designed programs of study. NSC needs assessment of working adults led to the conclusion that many students require more intensive, up-front development of the basic skills required for access to the technically demanding educational pathways into STEM occupations. The STEM Foundations course helps students bring their math, reading/writing, computer and critical thinking skills to the level necessary to take full advantage of the technical curriculum in one of the five programs. The STEM Bridge team developed a modularized set of curriculum “bundles” that can be adapted and inserted by colleges wherever needed to provide support for lower level learners who need to build foundational skills before entering the credit certificates. The innovative “STEM Foundations” course contains 22 interactive online modules in Math and workplace communication to support the FAST TRACKS program.
STEM Foundations Workplace Communication (PPTX)
In addition, the NSC programs recommend a number of innovative learning strategies that promote success:
- Compressed schedule to enable students to finish and become reemployed sooner than with traditional college programs.
- Cohort enrollment — the same small group of students learn together throughout their one-year program.
The educational strategies created by the project are designed to achieve high rates of completion, credential attainment, and employment.
- From "Certificates Count: An Analysis of Sub-baccalaureate Certificates", December 2010. Commissioned by Complete College America and completed by Brian Bosworth of FutureWorks.
- Some programs may be slightly more or less than 30 credits.