Industry credentials allow students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills required for success in a specific occupation or industry. However, not all credentials are valued equally in the workforce; in fact, some credentials lead students to dead-end, low-wage jobs. As states work to increase the career-readiness of their students, they can ensure that all educational offerings lead to the credentials and skills valued most in their state's unique workforce.
Developing and implementing career pathways that allow students to earn high-value credentials requires the active engagement and leadership of state policymakers, local education institutions, employers and credentialing entities. States that define criteria for credentials of value and regularly analyze industry credential attainment data are poised to build education systems that are responsive to changing employer demand and ensure that students are prepared for successful careers.
[Report 1 Name] explores the state of credential data collection and alignment with workforce demands across all 50 states. This report offers recommendations for state policymakers, industry credentialing entities, educators and employers to work together to ensure all students have access to credentials that lead to high-skill, high-wage, in-demand careers in their state.
Coming soon: [Report 2 Name] builds on the foundation laid in [Report 1 Name] to examine the impact of credential attainment on long-term student outcomes. This report analyzes the credentials that students earn in high school and their impact on student postsecondary completion and wage earnings to provide insights into the return on investment of various credentials in Florida, Indiana and Kentucky.
Industry credentials are an important component of comprehensive career pathways that lead students from secondary through postsecondary and into high-skill, high-wage, in-demand careers. The resources below offer additional guidance on how to strengthen states' approaches to career pathways and industry credentials.
States can encourage school districts to offer credentials of value through a financial incentive tied to performance. In other words, schools earn bonus funding for each student who earns an industry credential.
States have new flexibility in creating and implementing CTE programs thanks to the reauthorization of the "Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act" (Perkins V) in 2018. ExcelinEd's five-part CTE playbook series can help states use this flexibility to ensure their CTE programs prepare students for success.