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Letter from the Workcred Executive Director
Roy A. Swift, Ph.D. COL, Retired

December 2020

Roy A. Swift, Ph.D. COL

Shining a Light on a New Era of Possibilities

Dear Colleagues:

Optimistic thinking can help us navigate through the most challenging times. At Workcred, we recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired many Americans to reassess, and even reimagine their careers. As people upskill, reskill, or even shift to different career paths entirely, they may find that they need a starting point to help them make sense of credentials. They may also need guidance on how to choose credentials that offer high value within a competitive workforce.

In light of the holiday season and a new year ahead, I am optimistic about a new era of possibilities for the workforce thanks to some recent Workcred developments that I am excited to share with you.

Navigating a New Landscape of Certifications

Did you know that more than 43 million Americans hold a professional certification or a license? Despite that astounding number, the unfortunate reality is that many employers, workers, students, policymakers, and education and workforce development practitioners simply lack the knowledge about the use and value of these credentials.

To help solve this challenge, Workcred recently announced the publication of “Understanding Certifications” part of a collaborative project with the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW), and George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP). An outcome of a two-year effort funded by Lumina Foundation, the report provides an overview of the diverse landscape of certifications – what purpose they serve, who awards them, what value they provide, ways to assess quality, and how they align with educational pathways.

As we value your input on this effort, we encourage you to look at the report and provide feedback on the report's questions about the future of certifications.

And, as part of this project, CSW, GWIPP, and Workcred are busy interviewing certification bodies to get a better picture of the rigor that goes into creating a certification, their relationship to other types of credentials that includes training and higher education credentials, and how industry is utilizing certifications. Another report detailing the findings is expected by the end of 2021.

Furthermore, an opportunity to showcase how different types of credentials can better equip students for success in the job market includes a framework released this month, "Embedding Industry Certifications with Bachelor's Degrees.” The guide – developed by Workcred, in partnership with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU), and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) – identifies examples, opportunities, benefits, and challenges associated with integrating industry certifications into bachelor’s degrees. The goal of this effort is to unlock opportunities for students to earn multiple credentials that have value in the labor market. This is most inspiring news as we enter a new decade.

Workcred Efforts Sweep across the Nation, and on Zoom Too

  • As part of our busy roster of virtual speaking engagements this year, I'm happy to share that I recently joined panelists at a Certification Network Group (CNG) webinar to share how we can elevate the visibility, relevance, and value of certifications to help close the pandemic divide. Check out the coverage about the event and read more about it.
  • In an effort to shift our focus on outcomes and return on investment for credentials of all types, in November, Karen Elzey, our associate executive director, presented information on Workcred’s data linking project to the Institute of Credentialing Excellence’s virtual 2020 ICE Exchange conference. The session focused on the value to credentialing bodies to participate in activities that link three data sets – data from the credentialing bodies, data about postsecondary educational attainment, and data about wages. As part of this effort, we are encouraging the certification and certificate communities to become more active in efforts focused on linking data as a way to provide greater transparency about credentials to consumers, employers, governments, and policymakers.
  • We are also proud to share that this year Karen Elzey served as a member of a committee of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which planned a virtual workshop series on immediate and near-term regional science, technology, engineering, math, and medical (STEMM) workforce needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest November event was one of six workshops so far, which are accessible online, along with more information about the project.
  • Just a few weeks ago, our director of research, Dr. Isabel Cardenas-Navia participated as an expert panelist for the Strada Education Network’s Public Viewpoint virtual event, for which she spoke about Workcred's mission to educate the public about how certifications and certificates align workers with meaningful careers at a time when they face a challenging job market.

On the Horizon

We are also excited to announce some additional collaborations in progress, including teaming up with the Education Design Lab, a non-profit that designs, tests, and implements unique higher education models that address the rapidly changing economy and emerging technology opportunities, to advise and support the recently launched Community College Growth Engine Fund (CCGEF). As part of the CCGEF Advisory Council, Workcred staff will serve as subject matter experts to the CCGEF participating institutions. The Fund serves to meet the urgent demand from community college leadership, to deliver skills-focused, market-driven education as regions struggle to mitigate the growing skills gap. Ultimately, The Fund will invest in U.S. community colleges as they meet growing consumer and employer demand for short-term credentials.

I am also happy to share that Workcred currently has a license agreement with a certification body that provides emerging technology certifications and micro-credentials, which will utilize our recent video on “Differing Types of Workplace Credentials” as part of its course materials. The video was developed as an educational tool to be used to help organizations better understand and navigate the credentialing system, and I encourage you to check it out, if you haven't already.

With so much progress, I am inspired by the promise of the New Year and a new decade. As always, Workcred is grateful for your continued support when it comes to advancing quality credentials. We are hopeful for an even better 2021 and look forward to sharing even more successes with you in the near future. Maybe, next time in person. My best wishes to you for a Happy Holiday season.

As always, my best wishes to you,

Roy A. Swift

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Workcred is an affiliate of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

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