MA Governor’s Event Connects Education and Workforce Development

As I heard at an MIT event last month, new technologies like robotics and artificial intelligence have an untold impact on the future of work. It is clear that education now needs to be an ongoing experience that buoys workers up and helps them remain marketable in today’s changing economy.

On November 20, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker convened an event on the theme of Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning.

Hosted by Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, the event speakers included Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education (ACE) and Chris Gabrieli, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.

There was a strong leadership showing from community colleges across the state. Massasoit Community College and North Shore Community College leaders and students were featured as part of the program.

Employers also added to the discussion, including leaders from General Electric and Microsoft. The governor’s event featured a series of announcements of programs to support today’s workers with educational opportunities.

I’ll share two significant areas of the program in this piece.

Recognizing Alternative Credentials

First Anant Agarwal, CEO of EdX, shared partnerships his organization has developed with employers.

EdX, as you may know, is a Cambridge-based non-profit online learning provider, serving over 14M learners worldwide. One of these new partnerships is with General Electric. As part of the partnership, students who complete the EdX MicroMasters program in areas like cyber security and cloud computing will be pre-qualified for interviews at GE.

Another new EdX partnership has Microsoft contributing to the cost of any Massachusetts community college student to complete the EdX entry level computer science professional certificate program. There is additional work being done to see how those students might have college credit recognized for their work at EdX.

Providing Credit for Prior Learning

Second, leaders and students from Massasoit and North Shore Community Colleges announced the launch of a new statewide website for students seeking college credit for prior learning.

Karen Hynick, Vice President of Academic Affairs at North Shore Community College, said her institution has been involved in credit for prior learning (CPL) programs for over 40 years. A North Shore Community College student and veteran of the Coast Guard shared how her experience in the service accelerated her college work and made college much more affordable.

According to the new website, CPL programs across the state are designed to serve working professionals, military veterans, stay at home parents, and displaced workers. Individuals can explore CPL options and career and education pathways, seeing which ones might be funded by unemployment. Then they create profiles on the site, and enter details of prior learning for which they are looking to get credit. Community college professionals take the process from there.

It was meaningful to me, as a Massachusetts resident, to see the governor’s office host an event on this important topic of lifelong learning.

The economy is strong in the state. However, there are hundreds of thousands of open jobs and scores of unemployed and underemployed people across Massachusetts. Job seekers and employers are both losing an essential battle. Education providers can help both parties win the battle by filling this gap to build a stronger Massachusetts.

It is good to see non-traditional providers like EdX alongside our state post-secondary system coming together to support learners. And it is heartening to see global employers investing in building a skilled workforce here in Massachusetts. All of these organizations support workers who now need to be lifelong learners, continually adjusting their skill-sets to sustain employment and grow their careers.

Hester Tinti-Kane

Hester Tinti-Kane

Hester Tinti-Kane is the CEO of EdTech Times. She's worked in digital media and education for over 10 years. Hester is passionate about transformative technology in education and business.