- Amid the coronavirus pandemic, almost half of all states in the U.S. have invested in credential transparency to address workforce gaps as well as meet larger state economic goals, according to Credential Engine, a nonprofit focused on credential transparency. A "widespread adoption" of a standard for describing and evaluating credentials can promote economic growth and individual mobility, the organization said in a report released Feb. 10.
- There are an estimated 967,734 unique credentials in the U.S., the report found. Of that total, more than half (549,712) of credentials were provided by non-academic organizations in the form of badges, course completion certificates, licenses, certifications and apprenticeships. About 359,713 degrees and certificates were granted by postsecondary educational institutions; secondary schools accounted for 48,919 of diplomas; and 9,390 credentials were granted by massive open online course providers, the organization found. Credentials were measured across 16 categories.
- The report sought to provide a better understanding of the number of credentials in the U.S. and the range of learning and credentialing opportunities, which can influence practices in the education and workforce industries, according to Credential Engine. The findings also demonstrated “the nation’s need to dramatically improve transparency in the credential marketplace," the organization said. However, an “even more rigorous accounting and a better understanding" of the relative returns of various credentials is still necessary, Credential Engine said.
Certifications and other credentials may provide companies with a form of certainty of a worker’s skills, particularly in the tech field.
More than half of IT executives (67%) surveyed in 2020 by the University of Phoenix and the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants said their companies require industry certifications for jobs in cybersecurity. Respondents included 256 individuals in roles such as CIO, CTO and CISO at organizations with 100 or more workers. Tech skills often change at a faster pace than traditional education providers can keep up with.
"Employers and workers are scrambling after the economy faced unexpected and painful roadblocks amid a global pandemic," Scott Cheney, CEO of Credential Engine, said in a statement. "They shouldn't have to guess which skills and credentials meet their needs — particularly with the proliferation of new options in this new normal."
Some of the largest tech companies in the U.S. are expanding certifications in many areas. For example, Google announced in July it would add project manager, data analyst and user experience designer programs to its Google Career Certificates created and taught by workers at the company. Microsoft and Coding Dojo announced in November that Coding Dojo users can earn Microsoft Azure certification through the platform.
“Painting a clear picture of the credential landscape is a critical first step in helping illuminate effective pathways back to economic security," Cheney said.