December 8, 2021

Targeted expertise

TC3 microcredentialing courses bolster workforce

Catherine Wild/contributing photographer

Nicholas Dalwymple, a family support coordinator at Racker, talks with Linda O’Dell, a community member he serves, about her walker. Dalwymple is learning more about the human services field through a new microcredentialing program at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

Nicholas Dalwymple sat Thursday morning with Linda O’Dell at the high-rise building on Church Street in Cortland, discussing how her walker is serving her.

Dalwymple is a family support coordinator at Racker, an Ithaca-based organization that supports people with disabilities and their families. He helps coordinate community rehabilitation services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Dalwymple had no prior experience in the human services field before joining Racker this week, which is why he signed up for continuing education through Tompkins Cortland Community College.

TC3 is partnering with agencies — like Racker— to provide courses in a microcredentialing program that educate employees in their chosen fields, said Associate Provost Malvika Talwar.

Microcredentialing provides a validation that the participants are competent within a chosen field. They can incorporate several college classes, but not enough for a degree.

Dalwymple is getting a basic overview of the human services field — including coverage of social welfare and government programs. This helps him keep up with his peers.

The microcredentialing program is a SUNY-wide initiative and Racker is providing TC3 its first cohort of 17. Racker pays for the employees to take the online courses that comprise the microcredentialing program.

“We’re looking to invest in our employees so they are able to be more informed in the positions they currently have, and perhaps pursue higher level positions or different positions in the agency,” said Sue Budney, Racker’s director of quality standards.

By fall 2020, the students will have completed a class in English, introduction to Human Services, introduction to disabilities studies and family strengths-based intervention.

The college is talking with other businesses in electrical and technology fields about what other microcredentialing courses could be useful, Talwar said.

The idea is to be more responsive to the needs of the community.

But the microcredential program doesn’t have to just be for employers, it could also be used academically, Talwar said, such as health education for students who are trying to get into the nursing program.

“We could build a microcredential for them, another skill, while they are trying to get into the nursing program,” she said.

The students in the microcredentialing course become more engaged employees, said Joe Smith, the adviser to the program and chairman of the humanservices and chemical dependency counseling programs at the college. The courses may spark in them an interest to continue their education.

That’s exactly what Dalwymple plans to do.

He hopes to get his associate’s degree from TC3 and ultimately transfer to SUNY Cortland for a human services degree.

“I didn’t have a clear path before,” Dalwymple said. “This seemed to mesh well and reinforce the future of my professional career.”