Programs that Work: Quality Assurance for Short-Term Occupational Programs

The federal government's largest investment in postsecondary education and training is through the federal Pell Grant program, which supplies more than $6 billion to help needy students pay for college tuition. While the Pell program is critical to connect students with postsecondary opportunities, short-term occupational training programs, which are not eligible for Pell funding, can also provide students with career-relevant training that prepares them to excel in high-demand jobs.

This paper from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign proposes a quality assurance framework for short-term occupational training programs and provides recommendations for state and federal policymakers to strengthen the quality of such programs. The paper reviews several program approval processes and evaluates them according to seven quality criteria: ease of use; inclusion of industry approval; adjustability; federal recognition; incentives for providers; offering of program-level approval; and consideration of outcomes.

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January 2017