The Power of Education and Upskilling for Women Blog
Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Exploring the Power of Education and Non-Degree Programs


In the current job market, many workers are shifting or changing careers at a rapid rate. It’s a time, particularly for women, to reassess their goals and explore what other jobs might be a good fit. 

Amy Ahearn, VP of Strategy for Pathstream, recently spoke about these issues. In particular, she provided insights about how education programs can help make women stronger candidates for a variety of roles, including those within industries where women have traditionally been underrepresented. She also explores the power of non-degree/certificate programs and how they can support women and their long-term career ambitions. As a Workforce Edge partner, Pathstream is committed to helping individuals upskill and achieve their career goals. 

Education is important, but it can also be time-consuming for working women. What are some options that are available to us? 

Education equips women with skills that can be used to better their careers and achieve greater economic mobility for themselves. Non-degree and certificate programs are flexible offerings that can be helpful for working women. These programs can often be completed online at your own pace through an asynchronous curriculum. For women who hold a full-time job, this can be a practical way to advance their skills on a timeline that works better for them. 

In your work at Pathstream, do you see a higher percentage of women enrolling in these types of programs? 

I do. At Pathstream, a majority of our students are women, and many of them are working parents. They come from diverse backgrounds, with varying levels of work experience and prior education. 

But all are interested in gaining skills to get better jobs. They want to move up in their careers and support themselves and their families.

What are your thoughts on the world of IT? How have jobs in this industry evolved? 

Increasingly, we’re seeing a new category of IT jobs that require “low-code” or “no-code” skills. A lot of people don’t know there are all of these jobs in tech that don’t require a software engineering degree. You can instead find tech roles in things like Salesforce—administration, digital marketing, and project management. They all require some level of tech skills but don’t require months and months of study—these skills can be picked up through work experience or a relatively short program. 

A lot of workers don’t have the time to complete an academic degree. For those who are interested in non-degree programs, can you offer some advice? 

This is definitely an issue. Many of the female students we work with tried traditional degree programs in the past but some have had to stop when other life or work obligations got in the way. 

However, offering a six to nine month certificate program that can fit into their daily lives is a more manageable option. It’s also easier to visualize completing their program and using the skills they gain to get a new job within one calendar year. This can be a great motivation.

Are there programs that are specifically designed to help women advance in their careers? 

We just started offering a new leadership and management course through Workforce Edge, which applies across the board—for frontline workers or those in more of a management role.

The course teaches the fundamentals of effective professional communication and how to manage your time. All of the content was created to help women level up in their careers. 

What about programs designed to help them advance in industries where they’ve traditionally been underrepresented? 

We’ve had great success with people using data and analytics programs to break into various fields — so many industries are hiring data analysts. Companies ranging from grocery store chains to airlines need skilled workers to analyze data, find patterns, and produce useful narratives. We’ve also seen women change careers into more IT-focused ones, whether it’s through coding skills, data visualization, or related fields. 

Finally, do you have any advice for women who are considering education but are not sure where or how to start?

My advice for women who are unsure of how or where to start their education journey would be to consider looking into non-degree or certificate programs first. 

Many of these programs are designed to provide specialized training and skills in a   specific field and women can choose a program that aligns with their career interests and goals. As I mentioned, these programs are flexible and often offered in partnership with leading universities. They also help prepare you to pass industry-leading exams and get certified in various fields. By completing a non-degree or certificate program, you may be better positioned to take advantage of more career options. Education can be the key to helping you get to where you want to go in your career. 

In the current job market, many workers are shifting or changing careers at a rapid rate. It’s a time, particularly for women, to reassess their goals and explore what other jobs might be a good fit.