Lumina Foundation and Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) have joined forces to establish the Connecting Credentials initiative and together launched a national campaign on how to build a well-functioning and sustainable credentialing ecosystem that is in sync with the needs of 21st century learners, employers, and the economy.
Too many learners face a credentialing marketplace that is confusing and chaotic, especially those who are low-income, minority, and otherwise underserved and underrepresented. Employers have had mixed results leveraging credentials for hiring and career advancement. Beyond using college degrees as a rough proxy for work readiness, many employers find it difficult to understand the array of credentials in the marketplace. Employers often struggle to communicate what competencies they need from workers – particularly in the midst of rapid labor market changes – in ways that learners and educators can understand.
In today’s knowledge-based economy, postsecondary credentials are the currency through which people’s competencies and employability are recognized. Credentials include degrees, certificates, industry certifications, licenses, badges, diplomas, and micro-credentials. They are offered by many providers, including colleges, universities, technical schools, industry associations, the military, and third-party organizations.
The proliferation of educational options and wide array of postsecondary credentials in the U.S. marketplace provide a great national opportunity. They can help increase social mobility and economic opportunity for learners and help employers meet their talent needs in an increasingly competitive, rapidly changing and uncertain global economy.
In October 2015, 200 leaders representing more than 150 organizations convened for a National Summit on Credentialing to take the first step in articulating a shared vision for a 21st century credentialing system. The discussions made it clear that critically needed changes in credentialing policy and practice can only be realized by coordinated actions taken among diverse stakeholders.
Following the summit, five work groups composed of 100 national experts in various areas of credentialing met several times in early 2016 to develop recommendations for stakeholders at all levels to consider as they undertake change efforts inspired by our shared vision. These work groups resulted in the creation of a 7-point action plan, which provides numerous recommendations for specific action by employers and employer associations, professional societies, accreditation bodies, certification bodies, education and training providers, state government, federal government, entrepreneurs, philanthropic community, student organizations, social and economic justice organizations, and researchers. The plan also provides examples of critical work already underway in each of the seven areas for action.
Please visit the project’s website, connectingcredentials.org and follow us on twitter, @ConnectCreds for more information on the work, credentialing news and how to get involved!