UW flexible programs address Wisconsin’s workforce needs


To stay competitive, Wisconsin must train more workers to fill in-demand jobs, according to the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment. The University of Wisconsin is addressing the state’s urgent need for workforce development with flexible education programs aimed at nontraditional students.

Steven Walters of WisconsinEye explored the UW’s innovative approach with Jeffrey Russell, UW-Madison’s Dean of Continuing Studies and Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning, and Aaron Brower, UW-Extension’s Provost and Vice Chancellor.

Brower discussed the UW Flexible Option, which offers an easy way for adults to earn a UW degree or certificate while balancing work, family, and other commitments.

“About a fifth of the population of Wisconsin, somewhere in the neighborhood of 700,000 to a million, have some college and no degree, and that’s really the target here,” Brower said. “They were in school for a while, or they went late, and now they’re coming back looking for something more. Or it could be they have a very satisfying career and they’re looking to advance that with more training.”

A welcoming website

Russell explained the benefits of pdc.wisc.edu, a new one-stop website that promotes UW-Madison’s ever-increasing offerings of flexible and online degree programs for nontraditional students. The programs make the university more welcoming for Wisconsin professionals who want to continue their educations and advance their careers, but who can’t afford to give up their jobs to go back to school.

“Our role with the Professional Degrees and Certificates portal was to try to make it easier for adults in the state who want to develop their skills to explore what’s available on our campus,” Russell said. “We’re really trying to increase access so people can look at what program might make sense for them.”

See the video above for the complete interview on WisconsinEye.

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