The Accelerating Recovery through Credentials Adult-Ready Playbook

Higher education is facing a critical turning point in 2021 and the years ahead. COVID-19 and the resulting economic shifts have created massive job displacement and churn, forcing significant numbers of people to upskill or reskill to continue their careers. At the same time, institutional leaders are seeking to confront enrollment declines from demographic shifts, and state higher education and workforce leaders are working to address the demands for a robust workforce and talent pool.

These pressures have turned the spotlight on the adult or “post-traditional” learner and higher education’s readiness to support them. Although a postsecondary credential is needed now more than ever to be successful in the labor market, the centuries-old model for higher education, designed for full-time students enrolling directly out of high school, does not provide the flexibility and industry-responsiveness that these learners desire or deserve. 

ESG is pleased to release The Accelerating Recovery through Credentials Adult-Ready Playbook, the first resource of its kind to pull together the most promising strategies for serving post-traditional learners into a single, comprehensive framework– one that fundamentally re-envisions education for this population. This playbook puts forward a holistic and reform-minded process that higher education leaders can use to refocus education and training systems to meet the needs of a very diverse population of adult learners; it can be used to harness lessons learned in order to achieve a more adult-ready system of higher education.

Following an introduction to the Playbook via the Overview and User’s Guide documents, state and institutional leaders are encouraged to complete a self-assessment to 1) assess the degree to which the key strategies have already been implemented and scaled, and 2) prioritize or re-prioritize actions within those strategies to deploy next. Based upon the results of the self-assessment, leaders can then dive into Action Guides that provide detailed strategies and key action steps for each of the five priority areas: Accessibility, Program Change, Operational Change, Data, and Partnerships.