The purpose of higher education is to train for a future career, but what about other, equally important life skills, such as critical thinking, being an active listener, and teamwork?

A new pilot program at Central New Mexico is teaching students the professional skills that employers are looking for in the hiring process.

The Micro-Credentialing Program at CNM is prepping students for all aspects of work in order to give them an edge over other candidates.

“You’re going to have a better pool of workforce that are going to have those intangibles that we can use and baseline them against other people who are coming in that don’t necessarily have those,” said Samuel Hatchell, quality manager at Jaynes Corporation.

Employers like construction engineering company, Jaynes Corporation, and TLC, are excited to see the success of a pilot program at CNM.

The college’s Micro-Credentialing Program isn’t about having enough credits to graduate.

“We issue digital badges specifically looking at their professional skills that are not particularly visible in certificates or transcripts,” said Asa Stone, a presidential fellow at CNM.

 It’s about preparation for the workforce.

Stone is in charge of the program. She says students can earn “badges” on a mobile app through a variety of ways.

“One-way students can earn is by participating in a specific workshop and then they will demonstrate those skills,” said Stone.

They can also earn micro-credentials through Job Connection Services and access to Education Design Lab’s services and Credly.

Some of these skills include communication, decision making, and time management, all valuable for landing a job but not always taught. 
Each badge is verified and issued to students who can then share them on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, or on a resume.

“Students are still getting certificates and degrees that really focus on technical skills On top of those technical skills, they have these professional skills 21st-Century skills,” said Stone.

Employers say this will make a candidate stand out and it could help cut down on the time and money spent on training new workers.
“If they come in for an interview and they have those skill sets naturally or they’ve learned them over time. Then we are going to hire them for those reasons,” said Hatchell.

CNM believes this will strengthen a pipeline between students and local industries, keeping talent here in town and stopping the “brain drain.”

The program is open to all students.
The next workshop students can attend is November 30.

For more information, click here.