Written by Kyle Coward
Ask most adult students what might be their biggest obstacle to obtaining a degree, and the answer likely will come down to time.
With online learning making the educational process more time-manageable, more graduates are in a better position to complete their degrees and find employment in their desired industries. And there is no better example of this occurring than in telecommunications.
A model program at Pace University is currently the only education initiative of its kind in telecommunications, with a curriculum designed by the industry for the industry. In conjunction with the National Coalition for Telecommunications Education and Learning (NACTEL) - an organization of telecommunications companies and labor unions, to which our organization, the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning (CAEL), provides management services - the Pace University/NACTEL collaboration offers advanced educational training for students currently in the field, along with promoting job opportunities for qualified workers.
The Pace/NACTEL program has accomplished much with students since the first courses began in 1999, and has become a crucial part of Pace's online courses, which were recently named the nation's best by U.S. News & World Report. From the establishment of a bachelor's in telecommunications in 2003, to the subsequent establishment of associate's degrees and certificates in fixed-line networking, wireless networking, video technologies, and mobile technology, the Pace/NACTEL program has awarded over 1,000 degrees for students. Most recently, the program has expanded its offerings to award master's degrees in internet technology.
The Pace/NACTEL curriculum is continually reviewed and updated by subject matter experts from NACTEL partner companies to ensure it is in alignment with jobs much in-demand in telecommunications. In response to the telecommunications industry's need for more qualified workers (especially as many in the sector are expected to retire in the next several years), NACTEL has created a website, VIVID Future, that functions as a job portal and educational resource for students like those enrolled with Pace/NACTEL. Additionally, surveys are given to students 18 months after graduation to assess how the program is meeting their professional needs - data that we use in order to better serve current and future Pace/NACTEL enrollees.
When it comes to telecommunications, the IBM Institute for Business notes that the industry "has experienced more change in its last decade than its entire history." We at CAEL are a major proponent of the Pace University/NACTEL program, believing that first-rate talent for telecommunications jobs can be found among those possessing skills from "real world" experiences, and who are in a position to receive academic credit for such experiences. For if the telecom industry is to continue evolve and progress, it must also move forward in the way that it recruits adept professionals into its workforce.