In a very spirited panel discussion, three leading experts in credentials shared some challenges and opportunities in building, validating and scaling industry-recognized credentials and certifications at NASDCTEc’s annual Spring Meeting last week.
The session kicked off with moderator Tamar Jacoby of Opportunity America describing credentialing as “one of the sexiest topics in CTE” and a “key to change” because of their capacity to validate the mastery of knowledge and skills, send signals to employers, and prepare individuals for a full range of careers that fall between low skilled jobs and those requiring a full four-year degree.
Jennifer McNelly, President of the Manufacturing Institute, shared her organization’s efforts to bring “market sanity” to the large universe of industry-recognized credentials in manufacturing. The Institute sees credentials as potential “translators between education and employers” because they can give employers confidence that incoming employees with credentials are qualified. This is particularly urgent as the manufacturing industry is projecting a skills gap of up to two million jobs going unfilled in the next ten years. They started the process by reviewing 450 credentials and ultimately endorsed five in the first pass, a number that has grown slightly in the past few years.
Jacey Cavanagh, Project Manager, National Network of Business and Industry Associations, spoke about the role industry-based credentials can play in validating individuals’ foundational employability skills that apply across all industries. The ability to measure and validate these foundational skills are especially important with millennials expected to change jobs and careers more often than previous generations, placing more value on those transferable skills.
From the perspective of Dr. Roy Swift, Executive Director, Workcred, the proliferation of credentials and certificates requires a form of “protection for students and the public.” With over 4,000 agencies and organizations certifying skills, and a lack of transparency around the development, scoring and value of those credentials, he warned “buyers beware.” Questions he raised include – are credentials validated by third-party organizations? How often is re-certification required? What process do states have for phasing out meaningless credentials? Workcred currently is working with Kansas to create criteria for evaluating the true value of credentials to students and employers alike.
Check on a wide array of materials and resources shared by the speakers on our Spring meeting resource page.
Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Associate Executive Director