Employers Partnering to Provide Microcredential and Training Programs on the Rise, New Study From UPCEA and Collegis Education Reveals

January 23, 2024

Opportunities are growing, but higher ed institutions are losing ground to private providers

WASHINGTON, DC (January 23, 2024) — Companies partnering externally to provide training or professional development to employees increased by 26 percent (nearly 15 percentage points) between 2022 and 2023, according to a new study released today by Collegis Education and UPCEA, the online and professional education association. In addition, the report, “Unveiling the Employer’s View: An Employer-Centric Approach to Higher Education Partnerships,” revealed that more than 61 percent of companies without external training partnerships are interested in developing them.

In the second year of an ongoing research series, Collegis partnered with UPCEA to survey more than 500 employers to better understand their perceptions of collaborating with higher ed on professional development programs and alternative credentials.

While opportunities to partner with employers are growing, higher education is losing ground to private providers. Companies working with four-year colleges to provide employee training and professional development dropped by nearly 10 percent between 2022 and 2023, and community colleges also saw a decrease of 7 percent in training partnerships. Meanwhile, the number of companies turning to professional organizations and for-profit companies, such as LinkedIn Learning, for employee professional development is on the rise. Nearly 40 percent of company leaders cited “expense” as the main barrier to partnering with colleges and universities.

“In just the second year of our research partnership with Collegis, our study finds that an increasing number of companies are turning to external resources for microcredentials and other alternative credential programs,” said Jim Fong, Chief Research Officer, UPCEA. “Through strong collaborations with corporate partners to develop microcredential offerings, colleges and universities have an unprecedented opportunity to diversify their enrollment and open up new revenue streams.”

Those companies with higher education partnerships reported high levels of satisfaction. Nearly 100 percent of employers who currently work with a higher education partner plan to continue due to the school meeting the employer’s needs (77 percent), positive employee feedback (71 percent), and improved job performance (68 percent).

“This year’s study demonstrates that higher education institutions who develop custom programs to meet corporate training and professional development needs have forged successful partnerships and achieved enrollment at scale,” said Tracy A. Chapman, Ph.D., Chief Academic Officer at Collegis. “However, the decline in employer-institution partnerships shows that colleges and universities are not just competing against each other, but also private providers that have established themselves as formidable competitors. Partnership opportunities are on the rise. However, colleges and universities must act now to retain and grow their market share in the microcredential space.”

The complete 2024 study is available for download at: “Unveiling the Employer’s View: An Employer-Centric Approach to Higher Education Partnerships.”


About Collegis Education

 Collegis Education is higher ed’s innovation enabler, empowering schools with a better vision of how they fit into learners’ lives and what’s possible when they do. With more than 10 years’ experience as industry pioneers, we’ve proven how leveraging data, tech and talent can transform everything from student experiences to business processes. As higher ed evolves, you’ll need a thought partner and tactical pro, not a pre-packaged product or platform. Our strategic services allow institutions to leapfrog from wondering to doing, implement long-term growth plans and build in-house capacity to thrive in a complex market. Learn more at



UPCEA is the online and professional education association. Our members continuously reinvent higher education, positively impacting millions of lives. We proudly lead and support them through cutting edge research, professional development, networking and mentorship, conferences and seminars, and stakeholder advocacy. Our collaborative, entrepreneurial community brings together decision makers and influencers in education, industry, research, and policy interested in improving educational access and outcomes. Learn more at



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