JANUARY 18, 2023 — UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy today announced the appointment of JoAnn Browning, dean of the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design, as Provost Fellow to lead the university’s efforts in coordinating its offerings around workforce credentials.
Workforce credentials can be badges, licenses, certificates or certifications, and some degrees, required to work in a specific industry or to demonstrate the acquisition of skills for advancement. For example, UTSA Academic Innovation piloted a Google Project Management Certificate program, which was provided for free to students in fall 2022 across 12 different courses in Women’s Studies, Humanities, Modern Languages and Literatures. The certificate included lessons on project planning and management, cultivating and sustaining relationships with stakeholders, procurement and risk management.
By embedding certificate programs within curricula, students can gain marketable project management skills and apply them directly to their field of study. As a result, the added credential can make them more competitive for potential employers compared to other candidates with similar degrees or levels of experience. Furthermore, with these credentials in hand differentiating their value from others, graduates can command higher salaries.
Other examples include the UTSA Graduate School digital badges, which include contributions from programs across UTSA that meet a wide range of professional development needs of graduate students, faculty and staff, and the Grow With Google HSI Career Readiness Program offered through the Honors College and Career Center.
Credentials support UTSA’s work in building economic and social prosperity in San Antonio and Texas and create a benefit for potential employers by enhancing students’ career-readiness skills.
“Combined with our traditional degree programs, workforce credentials will play an increasingly important role in training the workforce of the future in a manner aligned with industry needs,” Espy said. “A key goal of our Integrated Design Initiative, which led to the establishment of the Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design, was to facilitate the workforce preparation of our students and more fully leverage our industry partnerships by aligning the correlated disciplines of architecture, construction, planning and engineering. As chair of that initiative and dean of the Klesse College, Dean Browning is uniquely qualified to work with her colleagues across the university to coalesce a framework for aligning and systemizing our efforts to embed workforce-ready credentials into our degree programs.”
Espy added that these efforts are consistent with the recommendations from the recently released Boyer 2030 Commission Report, The Equity/Excellence Imperative: A Blueprint for Undergraduate Education at U.S. Research Universities, to align academic programs to meet the workforce needs of San Antonio and beyond. They also support Texas House Bill 3767, enacted in 2021, which provides for building a statewide database of the credentials offered by public institutions or education and training programs to help identify and analyze key trends in education and workforce.
“I am delighted to work with my fellow deans and colleagues across the university to enhance UTSA’s education-to-workforce pipeline by aligning our efforts around workforce credentials,” Browning said. “UTSA intends to be a leader in providing opportunities for students to obtain credentials to help them gain an advantage in their future careers.”
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