Designing Programs for the Millennial Workforce

After experiencing a half decade of un- and underemployment, Millennials are turning to continuing education units to secure employable skills through affordable, fast-paced programs. Millennial enrollments are especially high at COE units in urban areas, where leaders report the average continuing education is 25 or 26 years old—down from an average age of mid-30s just a few years ago.

For many, "Millennial" brings to mind a teenager or college student, but the oldest of the U.S.' 80 million Millennials are turning 35 this year. They are quickly becoming the mid-career professionals COE leaders are used to serving.

Expected to have 20 jobs over the course of a lifetime and more burdened with student loan debt than any other generation, Millennials are finding it both financially and professionally impractical to invest in lengthy, costly master's degrees. Instead, many are choosing short-format certificates that give them the most critical skills they need to advance in a faster timeframe and at a lower cost.

Although many COE units include certificates among the programs in their portfolios, many COE leaders struggle to position their programs effectively to prospective students and employers. This study examines three types of non-degree programs that serve three distinct types of Millennials.

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