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On Credential Currency, Plus A Preview of Picks - Issue #5

Workforce Monitor
On Credential Currency, Plus A Preview of Picks - Issue #5
By Workforce Monitor • Issue #5 • View online
Dear Subscribers:
First of all, thank you for subscribing. We are starting to see some slow growth that is encouraging, so we thought it would be a good idea to go with a weekly schedule. In between relatively in-depth pieces like those we published in our first four issues, we plan on adding more succinct articles that synthesize single reports that we think are highly valuable, as well as additional articles about relevant organizations in this space.
In addition, at the bottom of this issue, there’s a preview list of links to our daily Editors’ Picks for the week of March 14 through 20.
Credentials as Currency
So, for another report synthesis, we decided to go with one that was published in September 2018, titled “Credential Currency: How States Can Identify and Promote Credentials of Value,” by the Education Strategy Group, Advance CTE, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. This report is a must read if you’d like to get a big picture view of the world of credentials. I strongly suggest you read it in its entirety, but as a kind of preview and in the spirit of saving time, we provide the following synopsis.
The report begins by stating that while credential-driven labor markets typically seek out employees with four-year degrees, there are 30 million jobs held by individuals who have earned less than a bachelor’s degree and more than a high school diploma, identified as a substantial “middle” that embodies opportunities for growth. Additionally, it’s noted that 28% of two-year degree earners, as well as others with only a one-year certificate, often earn more than four-year degree holders.
What States Need to Do
States recognize this and have acknowledged that “earning an industry credential while in high school can pay dividends for a student’s long-term prospects.” And states need to more clearly identify industry-recognized credentials that are valuable enough to bring a return on investment for credential earners. So, “this report provides recommendations to states for identifying credentials of value and increasing the number of students who attain them.” Best practices are identified along with national initiatives that can quicken this kind of work.
Some points of interest in this report that stood out for me were:
  • States need to “identify which industry-recognized credentials count for credit toward postsecondary education training.”
  • States need to “build a cross-sector priority industry-recognized credential list spanning the education and workforce systems that is backed by labor-market data and has demonstrated postsecondary value.”
  • Sates need to “put in place high-quality mechanisms to collect and report how many and which students successfully take and pass credentialing exams and earn specific industry-recognized credentials.”
Incentivizing Students and Building Lists
So, how can states meet such needs? As noted in the report, “states should encourage and empower leaders across agencies to collaborate on labor market and employer signaling analysis and collectively create priority credential lists that can then be used across sectors to scale and align their programs.” Such lists will also need to be consistently updated and validated.
Other parts of the report addressed how states can incentivize and motivate students to earn high-value credentials. The report points to how several states have been strategizing to achieve such worthy goals.
In Florida, the state legislator mandates that school districts inform students and their parents about ROI related to industry-recognized credentials, including estimated cost savings gained when earning such credentials in high school as opposed to post high school.
In Tennessee, funds from the Perkins Reserve Grant are utilized by school districts to pay for industry-recognized exams and for backing school-based credential testing sites.
In Ohio and Louisiana, some high-value industry-recognized credentials count toward high school graduation requirements.
One Step Further
Credential Engine is a highly relevant credential initiative, on a national scale, that is highlighted in the report (see Issue #4). “The goal of Credential Engine is to provide transparent information to employers about the skills and competencies that can be expected of credential holders and to students about the value of credentials in the labor market and their availability nationwide.”
Finally, there are many more highly informative suggestions for meeting the goals outlined in this very well-written report that were not covered in this synthesis. Our goal was to present a brief sketch to at least give you a modicum of understanding of the complex world of credentials.
More to come in future (now weekly) issues of the Workforce Monitor newsletter.
And please feel free to contact me with any constructive criticism and/or ideas for future articles. Email:  
Preview of our daily Editors’ Picks for the week of March 14, 2021:

The future of work after COVID-19
Biden needs to create an infrastructure talent pipeline, not just more jobs
Elon Musk said a college degree isn't required for a job at Tesla — and Apple, Google, and Netflix don't require employees to have 4-year degrees either
The pervasive narrative that students are going to college just to get a job isn't always so true
As Labor Force Shrinks, Wages Increase
Improving Youth Apprenticeship Data Quality: Challenges and Opportunities | Advance CTE
The State of Continuing Education 2021
‘Look for skills, not credentials’: Beth Cobert on building the skills of the US workforce
Modular Degrees | Confessions of a Community College Dean
Horizontal Stacking of Credentials: Framework and Success Considerations
Badge Count 2020
Biden’s economic recovery imperiled by shrinking labor force
Did you enjoy this issue?
Workforce Monitor

Workforce Monitor is published with the Program on Skills, Credentials & Workforce Policy at George Washington University. We comb through all the erudite literature on Workforce Development issues, trends, and strategies as they relate to the world of education. We then synthesize our favorite research into concise summaries and feature articles, covering this broad landscape in a way that can save you time.

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