Stacking the Deck for Employment Success: Labor Market Returns to Stackable Credentials Nov 01, 2020 By Katharine MeyerKelli A. BirdBenjamin Castleman Stacking the Deck for Employment Success: Labor Market Returns to Stackable Credentials With rapid technological transformations to the labor market along with COVID-19 related economic disruptions, many working adults return to college to obtain additional training or credentials. Using a comparative individual fixed effects strategy and an administrative panel dataset of enrollment and employment in Virginia, we provide the first causal estimates of credential “stacking” among working adults. We find stacking increases employment by four percentage points and quarterly wages by $570 (seven percent). Returns are larger for individuals whose first credential is a short-term certificate and in Health and Business. Link to Paper Areas of focus Education UVA partners EdPolicyWorks: Center for Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness Katharine Meyer Kelli A. Bird Benjamin Castleman Ben Castleman is an associate professor of public policy and education at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on policies and strategies to improve postsecondary educational and workforce outcomes for individuals from lower-income and historically-marginalized communities. His current work focuses on innovations to increase economic mobility among lower-wage adults, including digital- and health-skills training programs; state-funded career and technical education; and competency-based education models for working adults. Read full bio Related Content Benjamin Castleman Unfinished Business? Academic and Labor Market Profile of Adults With Substantial College Credits But No Degree Research Using data from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), this case provides the first detailed profile on the academic, employment, and earnings trajectories of the SCND population and how these compare with VCCS graduates. The scholars show that the share of SCND students who are academically ready to re-enroll and would benefit from doing so may be substantially lower than policy makers anticipate. Pushing College Advising Forward: Experimental Evidence on Intensive Advising and College Success Research Growing experimental evidence demonstrates that low-touch informational, nudge, and virtual advising interventions are ineffective at improving postsecondary educational outcomes for economically-disadvantaged students at scale. Intensive in-person college advising programs are a considerably higher-touch and more resource intensive strategy; some programs provide students with dozen of hours of individualized assistance starting in high school and continuing through college, and can cost thousands of dollars per student served. Peer Mentoring Improves College Success for Lower-Income Students News In a research update brief, Batten Associate Professor Ben Castleman and colleagues show a sustained positive effect of peer mentoring on college persistence for lower-income students. First Gen Students Are Missing from the Nation’s Top Colleges. Here’s How Virtual Advising Could Help News Batten School professor Ben Castleman spoke with USA Today about the benefits of virtual peer-to-peer advising for first-generation college students.