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University of Phoenix Approach to Skills-Mapped Curriculum Helps Working Adult Learners Gain Skills in Weeks, Not Years

University of Phoenix associate, bachelor and master degree programs now open for new enrollment are 100% skills-mapped, and University has issued more than 300,000 digital badges in multiple programs since launching the initiative

University of Phoenix is pleased to announce that its innovative skills-mapped curriculum, focused on the working adult learner, has culminated in 100 percent of associate, bachelor and master’s degree programs open for new enrollment now being fully skills-mapped. University of Phoenix has issued over 300,000 badges since September 2021, for skills obtained in undergraduate, graduate, and professional development courses. The University’s transition to a skills-mapped curriculum helps ensure that students are identifying and acquiring skills in weeks, rather than years, yielding value from their education as they progress through courses rather than just at the point of graduation.

University of Phoenix initiated its innovative skills-mapped curriculum and digital badging model to meet working adult learners’ need to demonstrate skills attainment for workplace relevancy. The workforce market has been shifting for some time toward recognizing skills gaps as well as opportunity gaps for workers, accelerated by the pandemic, and illustrated in the results of the University of Phoenix’s Career Optimism Index® study. Employers are increasingly embracing the shift in the labor market from its decades-long degree-based model to one that is skills-first.

“Our skill-mapping progress is on the forefront of efforts to leverage the importance and relevance of skills acquisition as part of the learner’s progress,” states John Woods, Ph.D., provost and chief academic officer. “We have worked to align degrees and individual courses to skills employers want, and to empower learners and job seekers in this new, more equitable era of skills-based hiring.”

As an open access institution serving working adult students, University of Phoenix has long used the innovative approach to flexible, adaptable online learning as an equitable environment. The skills-mapped approach to curriculum supports equitable access to progress; when learners obtain skills in weeks, they gain more immediate value from their education and do not have to wait years for a degree before making career decisions that can be built on skills they are already acquiring.

The university works with labor market researchers including Lightcast, formerly Emsi Burning Glass, and experienced faculty in their fields, to identify, tag, and map employer sought-after skills in curriculum. Students’ progress in acquiring skills is made visible through their individual Skills Profile located within the Career Navigator. Students who have earned digital badges for certain skills can then claim those using the Credly platform, to display the badges across multiple platforms including resumes, social media and digital platforms as proof of learning for current and potential employers, and professional networks.

The university launched badges for undergraduate courses required in most degree programs in 2022. “Embedding these skills and the opportunity to acquire the related digital badge as evidence of a skill means that students who are beginning their academic journey have tangible evidence and feel empowerment in their progress,” states Doris Savron, vice provost of Colleges. “Importantly, they can quickly share that they are learning those career-relevant skills early in their education journey.”

As learning and acquiring new skills while employed has become critical to talent retention and engagement, companies are increasingly examining the benefits of becoming skills-based organizations.

“Employers understand that retaining and growing talent internally contributes to their sustainability and growth trajectory,” states Raghu Krishnaiah, chief operating officer. “As a workforce solutions provider for various industries, University of Phoenix understands how structuring organizations and learning around skills has become a significant opportunity for developing, retaining, and attracting talent. Our learner-focused skills alignment in curriculum and Career Navigator platform provide an excellent foundation for tailoring unique solutions for our employer alliances as well.”