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Northwest Arkansas workers can learn new skills and advance in the workforce through a new micro-credential system at NorthWest Arkansas Community College.

NWACC recently received a $542,366 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to add skill-based micro-credentials to existing learning pathways this fall. Micro-credentials allow learners to increase their job skills while pursuing a degree or by taking a stand-alone course, and they’ll include education in areas such as management, oral communication, critical thinking and problem solving.

“The NWACC micro-credential initiative shows the college’s commitment to furthering educational opportunities for the community and underlines our dedication to meeting the dynamic needs of employers and fostering a skilled workforce,” said NWACC Director of Digital Learning Lucas Paxton. “We are confident that this will have a positive and lasting impact on learners, employers and the overall community, creating a pathway for continuous learning and professional growth.”

NWACC, which recently enrolled a record-high number of students, will partner with the Education Design Lab, a national nonprofit that co-designs, prototypes and tests education-to-workforce models, to develop the coursework and assessments using the lab’s Community College Growth Engine, or CCGE.

“The Lab is thrilled to welcome NWACC to the Community College Growth Engine program,” said Lisa Larson, the Education Design Lab senior vice president of college transformation. “NWACC and the CCGE, along with key stakeholder groups, will design innovative skills-based micro-credentials in high demand sectors to address the region’s most critical workforce needs and provide more economic mobility for their students.”

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