For decades, companies have required college degrees for jobs that previously didn’t need them. And it’s a hiring practice that has contributed to the skills gaps and worker shortages that many businesses face today—problems that community colleges are in a unique position to solve.

Community colleges have long been engines of recovery. Their affordable, flexible learning model and focus on workforce development make them well suited to reverse and capitalize on the damage created by this widespread hiring practice at the local level. What do they need to do? The answer is simple: Short-term skills training must be an integral part of their educational offerings.

This post covers why community colleges need short-term skills training and how they can cost-effectively add quality skills training into their workforce development activities.

Employers Choosing Skills Over Degrees

When hiring, a growing number of businesses are looking beyond academic credentials and assigning weight to job skills. In fact, big-name companies such as Google, Apple, Hilton, and IBM are doing away with bachelor’s degree requirements because they understand job competency doesn’t always correlate with academic credentials.

Some of these companies are even creating their own short-term, skills-based credentials for individuals to achieve. More importantly, these companies have the power to influence how other businesses approach their hiring practices.

So, if more employers start choosing skills over degrees, there will be a push for community colleges to reinvent how they deliver workforce training to aid job seekers and help companies retain employees.


An article published by the World Economic Forum suggests that when companies shift their hiring practices to focus on skills instead of degrees, they create a workforce that represents the diversity of our populations and helps close opportunity and employment gaps.

Consumer Demand for Short-Term Skills Training

Earning a college degree involves a lot of time and money, with the cost of a degree no longer having any bearing on future earning potential. Not to mention, most degree programs fail to address the daily functions of a real job. And more times than not, an individual’s job competency has nothing to do with what they learned with their degree.

For these reasons, university enrollment is down along with the value of a college degree. All the while, short-term, skills-based learning is growing in demand. According to a survey released by the Strada Education Network in August 2020, one in five Americans ages 18 and older said they planned to enroll in an education program in the next six months. Of those individuals, 37% said they preferred skills training or personal development courses, while 25% preferred a non-degree credential.

Also, the Inside Higher Education article “Alternative Credentials on the Rise” states consumer interest in skills-based, online credentials tied to careers are growing in popularity, namely among adult learners from diverse and lower-income backgrounds. After all, a college degree is out of reach for many Americans, and it shouldn’t be the only means to achieve economic security.

Furthermore, the societal and economic turbulence caused by the pandemic has accelerated and added urgency for more alternative learning pathways. So much so, policymakers are pushing short-term training and non-degree credentials as solutions to help people get back to work.

Given the demand for degree alternatives, community colleges can capitalize on this need and grow student enrollment by making short-term, career-aligned skills training part of their offerings.

Online Skills Training Solution for Community Colleges

As America’s degree system loses momentum by failing to keep up with an evolving workforce, community colleges can accommodate a future geared towards skills instead of degrees.

By partnering with 180 Skills, community colleges can affordably make job-specific online skills training part of their educational offerings. Our competency-based skills courses provide students with asynchronous, self-paced training that engages them where they are today.

Today, we serve more than 250,000 learners in the United States via our community college and workforce partnerships. Given the success our partners continue to have with online skills training, we want your school to achieve the same. And that’s why we created The Path Forward initiative. Through this initiative, community colleges can access our skills courses at a special, limited-time low price.

Your college can use the 180 Skills training system to:

  • Provide students additional learning options.
  • Offer employers learning paths that meet their needs.
  • Align with regional occupational training needs.
  • Offer high schools career-focused training programs.


The Path Forward Initiative

Over the past year and a half, we’ve worked closely with academic institutions across the country, helping them make career-aligned skills training integral to their educational offerings.

The Path Forward initiative represents our commitment to applying what we’ve learned to help an even greater number of educators. And, as part of the initiative, we’re offering our current and future college partners access to the 180 Skills content library at a special rate.

So, it’s the perfect time to provide every credit and non-credit student on your campus with world-class skills training that aligns with your school’s academic and workforce outcomes.

180 Skills Content Library

Housing nearly 800 skills courses and several industry-recognized certification programs, our content library can teach non-traditional learners essential technical and non-technical skills. Our skills courses fall into one of the following four categories:

  • Workplace & soft skills
  • Technical skills for manufacturing & logistics
  • Risk management & compliance skills
  • Quality & continuous improvement skills

Each skills course includes an instructor training plan to augment online learning with hands-on activities. Colleges can easily integrate our SCORM-compliant skills courses into their workforce or vocational training via our learning management system, or they can add them to their own.

Contact us to see how 180 Skills can help your college do great things.