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Practices with Promise Success Story

Submitted By: Corlei  Prieto, Santa Barbara AEBG Consortium

Career Skills Institute provides workplace preparation, satisfies employer needs

The Challenge

Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), a member of the Santa Barbara Adult Education Block Grant Consortium, wanted to create an impactful program that prepared adult learners and others for the competitive job market and helped to meet the needs of local employers.

The Solution

To address the challenge, the college created the Career Skills Institute (CSI), a noncredit certificate program that offers more than 36 certificates and digital badges in the areas of business, design, and technology. Digital badges are a unique and portable representation of a certificate that can be posted to online platforms that promote professional skills, such as LinkedIn. The course offerings were selected with the needs of local business in mind, including certificates for web design, computer hardware fundamentals and global trends in human resources. Representatives from each business sector, in collaboration with educators and local business owners, and with legislative support, considered the growing skills gap in the workplace and identified key skill sets needed.

The college became the first in the state to develop such a program. The Career Skills Institute is designed to provide students with the training needed to get a job or advance in an existing job, among other aims. The career skills courses are packaged to enable students to earn a certificate and a digital badge demonstrating they have mastered new skills.


A certificate for these courses appears on students’ transcripts, and are accompanied by the issuance of digital badges which students post to their online profiles, including LinkedIn and Facebook. Badges are a key inclusion for program completers as transcripts and certificates don’t often tell the whole story. When highlighted on a job application or online resume, these digital badges can give prospective employers a more complete picture of a student’s skills, competencies, and accomplishments. The outcomes of this program are mutually beneficial to the student and employer. In a 2017 employee skill survey report conducted by SynEd, 82 percent of employers identified CSI as an opportunity for them to develop a creative response to mitigate the time and money required for professional development training programs.

AEBG partnerships have also played a critical role in the development and growth of the CSI program. The consortium now is at a point in its grant where it is extending its community reach to provide career skills training at partner locations, such as the local Employment Development Office and the Santa Barbara Public Libraries. The list of the consortium’s partnerships continues to grow and the Career Skills Institute is ready to meet its community’s career development needs.

The Data

The first round of courses was piloted in fall 2015 and in spring 2016, beginning with a total of 3,011 students and offering 109 career skills courses. As of Fall 2017, the Career Skills Institute has served a total of 8,980 students and has offered 310 courses. Of the 36 certificates and digital badges offered, more that 263 badges of completion have been issued.

Supporting Information

SBCC Career Skills Institute

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