ANSI Blog Features Three-Part Series on Workcred Certification Research

By Isabel Cardenas-Navia – Published January 2021 in American National Standards Institute BlogSubscribe to the WFMonitor eNewsletter

In a three-part series on certifications, Workcred (an affiliate of the American National Institute – ANSI) was featured on the ANSI blog. The series was about a Workcred Lumina-funded grant (in partnership with the National Student Clearinghouse) in which Workcred surveyed a group of 30 certification bodies across multiple industries to “safely and securely link certification data with higher education enrollment and degree data and wage and employment data.” In addition to relying on their own survey data, Workcred accessed recent survey data from Strada.

Article 1 – Certification Bodies are Well-Positioned to Link Data and Deepen Understanding of ROI of Certifications
Unlike degrees, there is no data source depicting certification outcomes. Of the certification bodies surveyed, there is overwhelming support for linking individual student data with other organizations to develop a centralized database that tracks certification outcomes. By partnering student certification data from certification bodies with National Student Clearinghouse and US Census Bureau data,  information tracing degree-attainment outcomes and national average wages can be analyzed to determine specific labor market value of certifications. Made publicly available, this information can encourage prospective students to pursue certification programs that lead to occupations with high-wage premiums. Furthermore, clear premiums for specific pathways may also prompt baccalaureate graduates to earn additional in-demand certification-oriented credentials.

 Article 2 – Demand for Certifications Increasing During Pandemic

  • According to a November 2020 Strada survey, 66% of adult students are more likely to prefer non-degree postsecondary pathways, most of them expressing a preference for skills training options. 
  • Of Workcred’s 25 survey responses from credential bodies, 56% said there has been an increase in demand for certifications from individuals and employers over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 68% of credential bodies in Workcred’s survey reported their organization plans to offer new certifications in the next three to five years, with many responses saying the focus of these new certifications will be “specialized certifications (with an existing occupation), micro-certifications (assessing for a set of specialized competencies), or certifications in new areas or occupations.”

Overall, Workcred’s data shows certifications play a leading role in providing individuals marketable occupational skills without the time and cost of a degree. Additionally, in fields such as health care, information technology, or supply chain management where job descriptions are constantly changing due to new technology, certifications offer a low-cost, adaptable pathway to employment. 

Article 3 – Education and Training Support to Prepare for Certifications

  • Although the pandemic highlighted barriers to access of course materials for students, 70% of certification bodies in Workcred’s survey “provide study guides to all individuals seeking their certifications, and work with a wide variety of education and training providers.” 
  • “Over 40% of certification bodies had designated a process by which education and/or training partners could align their curricula to the competencies in their assessments.” 

Course materials provided by certification bodies (for free or purchase), such as study guides for students and curricular guides for education and/or training providers, “should increase the ability for education and/or training providers to support their students to earn certifications, either as part of an existing program or as an additional program.”