Texas Credentials for the Future

The University of Texas System — Goal 1 Initiative Texas Credentials for the Future

Recognizing the growing demand for short-term credentials among employers and education consumers, the Texas Credentials for the Future initiative will facilitate the expansion and development of industry-recognized credentials offered by UT’s eight academic institutions.

Recent college graduates are entering the job market at one of its most difficult and uncertain moments. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a recession and thinned job opportunities for students, who are now facing unemployment rates far worse than those in the 2008 economic crisis.  In addition, underemployed and displaced workers will face great challenges advancing or landing a new job without new skills.  The Texas Credentials for the Future initiative will facilitate the development of new and expanded credentialing opportunities across the state, helping college graduates distinguish their education and talent with industry-recognized certificates and credentials and providing opportunities for displaced workers to reskill and upskill to successfully reenter the workforce.

Alongside partners at the Texas Higher Education Board and the Texas Workforce Commission, the initiative team will analyze and identify gaps in industry-recognized credential offerings using employment data and employer feedback, develop a plan for expanding credentials that are in high demand, and establish pathways and financial support for enrolling students in these offerings.

Hispanic and African American students represent 49% of the University of Texas System student body. This initiative will serve these historically vulnerable communities, along with students whose career paths have been most impacted by COVID-19, by improving job placement rates through credentialing at scale and increased opportunities to interact with key employers. Broad access to credentials throughout the University of Texas System will create a more competitive and stable workforce across the state.  

As an immediate response to the economic upheaval caused by COVID-19, there is an opportunity for colleges and universities to expand offerings of short-term, industry-recognized certificates and credentials linked to high-demand, low-supply occupations.  We recognize and applaud community colleges for their work in this space, but we also believe that current economic and labor market conditions demand increased participation by four-year universities as well in order to meet the State of Texas’ educational and workforce needs in certain fields. Expanding UT’s role in the credential landscape will enable us to educate students, recent graduates and other workers who can reskill and upskill in response to labor market shifts. 

James Milliken, The University of Texas System

Initiative Differentiators

The Texas Credentials for the Future initiative represents a model collaboration among higher education institutions, state agencies and employers, all working towards economic growth by supporting students, workers and industry.

Key Interventions and Milestones

During Phase 1 of the Texas Credentials for the Future program, the initiative partners will focus on expanding and scaling high-demand existing credentials, such as Construction Management, Coding, and Data Analytics. Phase 2 will involve identifying gaps in those credential offerings using both labor market data and employer feedback, then filling those gaps by developing new credentialing opportunities and creating pathways for enrolling students in these new programs.

Expected Impact

The Texas Credentials for the Future initiative will provide comprehensive access to industry-recognized credentialing to students statewide, including many students from underrepresented communities and workers in at-risk industries. The initiative aims to increase the number of vulnerable students and displaced workers completing high-value credential programs, as well as the rates of job placement among those who completed these programs.