Enzi Emphasizes Importance of Schools, Employers Embracing Innovative Higher Education Opportunities

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The following is a release from U.S. Senator Mike Enzi’s Office. You can see a video of Enzi’s comments above.

Wyoming Trucks Dea;ls

Washington, D.C. – During a Senate hearing yesterday on the importance of access and innovation in higher education, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., raised questions about how schools and employers are embracing new education and training opportunities to benefit workers and businesses.

Enzi specifically focused on how employers could give their employees the extra edge to help them compete by embracing competency based and distance learning for their employees. Competency-based education refers to a system that assesses student progress based on outcomes and mastery of content rather than time spent in the classroom, while distance learning refers to students attending classes remotely.

Enzi noted that his wife’s own educational experience had shown some of the benefits that innovative distance- and competency-based education could provide.

“While she was raising a couple of kids and helping run a shoe store, she finished up her bachelor’s degree,” Enzi said. “Part of it she had to travel 70 miles each way three days a week to get classes. But later when she worked on her master’s degree [which was done remotely at the University of Wyoming from D.C.], she was able to participate in some of the competency-based education.”

Dr. Joe May, Chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, who was a witness at the hearing, said that employers are constantly investing their own money in competency-based programs.

May said that while employer training programs are designed around the skills their own organizations need, workers are sometime put at a disadvantage because these training programs are often not accredited.

“When we have conversations with employers, they are looking at what we can do to dovetail with the investments that they are already making themselves,” May said. “But also they understand that those have little transportability in the market. So how can we help and work with them to not only get the skills that they need but then align that with the credentials that they want to have when they graduate?”