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

April 2021

Roy A. Swift, Ph.D. COL

Embarking on New Collaborations for a Stronger Credentialing Future

Creating New Avenues for Credentialing Growth

Dear Colleagues:

For many of us, the road ahead looks much brighter than it did just a year ago. Recent news inspires some optimism: reports reveal that the U.S. is emerging as the main engine for global economic recovery. We know that credentials—so vital during these times of recovery—help elevate an individual's economic mobility. That is why I am proud to share how Workcred is on track to take the potential of credentials to the next level.

Our team is embarking on collaborative efforts to create new avenues for credentialing advancements. Here's a closer look at some of our progress:

Linking Data Provides a Clearer Vision of Certification ROI

As credential data grows in significance in the labor market, we need to prioritize our collaboration with certification bodies so that they can understand and prepare for linking their data. As it stands, there is no complete, centralized source of data revealing the outcomes or impact of certifications. Yet, we know that data can make all the difference when it comes to making informed choices.

Workcred has been busy convening a network of certification bodies to explore linking data so that individuals, employers, and policymakers have deeper insights on the return on investment of certifications. We are working with the National Student Clearinghouse to match administrative data from certification bodies, educational attainment and enrollment data from universities, and aggregate wage data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Ultimately, the act of linking data allows certification bodies to better understand and serve their clients, and significantly deepen the understanding of the role of certifications in credentialing pathways and their impact on wages. You can read more about the Lumina-funded effort and some early results in our recent blog post: Certification Bodies are Well-Positioned to Link Data and Deepen Understanding of ROI of Certifications.

And, let us not forget about credentialing's impact on education. To kick-start 2021, Workcred's associate executive director Karen Elzey joined NIST's National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education event to talk about how the state of credentialing affects cyber security skills. She revealed how competencies evidenced by credentials are the new currency for a digital economy.

And, as part of her guest spot on the Enrollment Growth University podcast, Karen spoke about the potential for better labor-market outcomes for students who earn two types of credentials simultaneously: degrees and certifications.

In other education efforts, Workcred joined a panel at the AIM Hire Texas Roundtable in March, which focused on innovation in the use of a variety of credentials by job-seekers, and by institutions who incorporate them in degree programs. The session also highlighted employers that support their employees in pursuing credentials.

I'm also happy to share that I am now an advisor of the Direct Credit Assessment Task Force, set to review military education, training, and experience and identify practical application. Established by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training, the task force aims to uncover opportunity for incremental credentialing and academic progression toward short and long-term career goals.

From the EPA to Older Workers, Workcred Seeks to Enhance Credentials for All

Outside of the education and workforce realm, Workcred has teamed up with the Standards Coordinating Body for Gene, Cell, and Regenerative Medicines and Cell-Based Drug Discovery in the development of a curriculum for an assessment-based certificate program on cell counting. The program will allow certificants to receive training to help them successfully implement specific standards and document conformity assessments needed to ease regulatory evaluation.

We are also excited to share that Workcred is assisting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to explore options for developing a framework that will help align existing credentialing systems for radon service providers and promote access to a qualified workforce. Radon-induced lung cancer is highly preventable and may be addressed by testing and mitigating homes when necessary. Professionals who provide radon testing and mitigation services play a key role in public health protection efforts. Although credentialing systems exist for radon professionals, roughly 6,300 individuals are credentialed today in the United States through state licensure or private credentialing bodies, and these systems lack a standard benchmark for quality. We're optimistic about the promise of the vital and game-changing framework.

With such wide-ranging efforts, I must also emphasize that our work encompasses every generation: in March, we released a report on workers 50 and older navigating the job market. The report findings reveal challenges that Generation X workers and "older" populations may face, such as job displacement and age discrimination, and examines how credentials can be a valuable asset to this segment of workers.

Our colleague, Isabel Cardenas-Navia, senior director of research, shared the findings at a Federal Reserve virtual event, "Uneven Outcomes in the Labor Market: Understanding Trends and Identifying Solutions," which highlighted disparities in employment, labor force participation, income, and wealth across demographic groups in February. We are particularly proud of this work, as closing the equity gap in decreasing the unemployed is essential, along with increasing access to credentials for all.

As our work to support workers continues, Dr. Cardenas-Navia recently joined the advisory board of Build Our Way Out, an industry-driven training initiative seeking to diversify America’s workforce, rebuild America’s infrastructure, and return manufacturing to the U.S. The coalition is organizing national, state, and local workforce, industry, and private trade union leaders from all 50 states to guide the policy and lead development of federal legislative pathways and vehicles.

"See You" Soon! A Video Debut and Other Efforts on the Horizon

While I haven't seen you in person for a while, you can catch yours truly on your screen very soon! We are thrilled to announce that we are gearing up this month to produce a new video on standards for personnel certifications. The video will introduce the concept of standards, especially as they relate to personnel certifications, and explain how standards are integral to certifications, and the role of standards in developing and administering a certification, among other lessons.

Speaking of standards, Dr. Cardenas-Navia and I have recently joined several standards-related committees, including the Defining Competencies Working Group, a committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), group IEEE P1484.20.2, which supports IEEE 1484.20.1, a technical standard for competency definitions data.

Dr. Cardenas-Navia also participates in the Learning Technology Standards Committee, Interoperable Learner Records (ILR) Workgroup, the IEEE standards committee that focuses on developing internationally accredited technical standards, recommended practices, and guides for learning technology.

I've also recently joined the Committee on Conformity Assessment and Joint Working Group 58, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 232, Education and Learning Services, which is focused on standardization in the field of education and learning services such as services, management systems, facilitators, assessments, terminology, and ethical conduct.

These efforts all position Workcred to be at the foreground of vital developments in learning and technology.

Stay Tuned for More

Finally, as we shared with you at the end of 2020, Workcred, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, and George Washington Institute of Public Policy released the report entitled "Understanding Certifications." The publication serves as a primer to help policymakers and practitioners alike, navigate the complex and little understood “wild west” of certifications. The report is the first in a series of publications that are set to be released in mid-to late 2021. Our future reports will focus on specific themes that emerge from research on certifications in cybersecurity, IT, healthcare, and manufacturing.

And last – but certainly not least – Workcred will be making some exciting and important updates to our website. We can’t wait to reveal more over the summer, so stay tuned!

We thank you for following us as we broaden our efforts, and invite you to catch up our latest news on Workcred.org, read our insights on the Workcred blog, and follow us on our social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) where we provide more project progress and updates.

I wish you the best, and hope you stay safe (and inspired)!

Roy A. Swift

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