ECMC Foundation Awards the Business-Higher Education Forum $341,000 to Connect Credentials to Jobs in Connecticut



An ecosystem of business, higher education, and government agencies will create pathways for under- and unemployed adults interested in acquiring digital skills and academic credentials in response to COVID-19. 

September 25, 2020 - ECMC Foundation has awarded the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) $341,000 to fund the Connecticut Digital Credential Ecosystem Initiative. This network of companies, community colleges, government agencies, and other stakeholders, led by BHEF, will develop new pathways to digital careers, particularly for individuals unemployed due to COVID-19.

BHEF has significant experience in developing regional ecosystems between academic institutions and employers that lead to career pathways. In this initiative, BHEF will help community colleges issue industry-validated credentials to support transparent career pathways across Connecticut and the surrounding region. Participating employers will approve the knowledge, skills, and abilities for these credentials, thus building recruitment and hiring links for students who complete the credential. 

"Matching learning outcomes to in-demand skills through credentials benefits the learner and the employer. The learner quickly increases their employability, and the employer reduces its skills gap," noted Brian Fitzgerald, BHEF's CEO. "This type of ecosystem allows for rapid reskilling and skill-based hiring, both of which are much needed during--and after--the pandemic." 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for workers in all industries to have strong digital skills,” said Jennifer Zeisler, career readiness senior director, ECMC Foundation. “We are excited about BHEF’s plans to help community colleges across Connecticut create employer-informed credentials that will help students learn in-demand digital skills, earn credit towards further education, and secure employment in a post COVID-19 economy.”

“Keeping pace with changing demands for digital skills is a constant, but critical effort,” said New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) President Michael Thomas. “NEBHE is pleased to partner with BHEF to catalyze this collaboration of businesses and community colleges that will accelerate learners’ employability, cutting-edge credential attainment and entry into higher-paying jobs.”

BHEF's Connecticut Digital Credential Ecosystem responds to this prospect of significant Connecticut State Community College (CSCC) enrollment growth and demand for adult-responsive, online, short-term, industry-validated credentials. BHEF will team with NEBHE and five campuses in a one-year pilot in the CSCC system, with the project subsequently scaled to other campuses. Business partners will be selected once the project is underway. 

About the Business-Higher Education Forum 
The Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) is a private, non-profit membership organization of leading C-Suite business executives and university presidents who employ the latest market intelligence to inform strategic partnerships that create innovative talent solutions and increase diversity in high-demand emerging fields. Members provide leadership by encouraging their peers to act on critical talent needs. For more information about BHEF, visit