Over the past few years, training providers like General Assembly and the Flatiron School have developed short-term programs that help people move into careers in tech. Courses in front-end and back-end web development, data analytics, user experience design, and other tech-related fields get people ready for new careers in as little as three months. This approach has proven a boon to program participants—many of whom find well-paying jobs shortly after completing their training—and to employers contending with shortages in the tech workforce.
However, because General Assembly and the Flatiron School are non-accredited, students can’t use federal financial aid to pay their tuition. As a result, many lower-income students find these short-term training programs out of reach.
A new pilot from the U.S. Department of Education hopes to change all that. The Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program will provide access to federal student financial aid for non-accredited education providers that team up with accredited institutions. Under the EQUIP program, the accredited college, university, or community college will assume responsibility for the quality of program offerings and the non-accredited organization will provide at least 50 percent of instruction time.
Smart solutions like the EQUIP program recognize that education and workforce training delivery models are evolving to meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy. Expanding access to short-term tech training, when paired with ongoing outreach efforts to underrepresented populations, will encourage more people to consider tech careers and improve diversity within the tech industry in the process.