Research

Workcred’s research services include partnerships and grants to examine workforce credentialing issues
and needs, and are currently focused on several key areas.

See our current research projects on Our work page.

Examining the relationship between quality, labor market value, and effectiveness of credentials

With the tremendous growth of certifications in this country, it has become more difficult to discern quality certifications from those of lesser caliber. Workcred is examining the linkage between “quality,” “labor market value,” and effectiveness. Information gleaned from this research will be useful to employers who are creating criteria for the selection of credentials that have value for their organization; certification bodies to market the predictive validity of their credentials; states looking for quality certifications that align with their education programs; and individuals seeking credentials that will make a difference in obtaining employment and demonstrating value to the organization after employment.

Exploring the relationship among different types of credentials (e.g., certifications, degrees, certificates) to improve credential holders’ labor-market outcomes

In recent years there has been enormous growth in the number and variety of labor market credentials — college degrees, certificates, certifications, occupational licenses, and badges. It is important to understand the purpose of each credential and how credentials can be used in combination (e.g., earning a certification as part of a college degree) to improve individuals career and labor-market outcomes.

Mapping and integrating the credentialing landscape to create more defined credential pathways

To date, no known comprehensive mapping of credentials has been done that looks at the growth of specific credentials, how they are defined, and what, if any, the relationships are among the credentials. This type of information will help credential seekers understand how they would benefit more from one credential than another and how the credentials could be used to build a career pathway.

Using data to identify credential values and outcomes

Individuals and employers struggle to discern high quality credentials from those of lesser quality. They do not know why or when they should choose one over another and how they relate. For example, information obtained by linking different administrative data sets, can be used to improve education decision making and measure the return on investment of certification attainment.

Research Highlights

The Role of Certificates in Signifying Knowledge and Skills Attainment
There are different types of certificates that serve different purposes, which are offered upon completion of an education or training program. And to confuse matters even more, not all certificates convey the same type of information about the knowledge and skills of the holder. This issue brief highlights the purposes of different types of certificates, outlines the national standards for certificate issuers, and describes the process to accredit certificate issuers.
Certification Myths Debunked
Certifications are one of the most frequently misunderstood credentials. A contributing factor to this confusion is that the terms certificate and certification are often incorrectly used interchangeably. This issue brief addresses five common myths about certifications to clear the confusion, including understanding the prerequisites required to earn a credential; who develops the assessment and whether it assesses learning outcomes or competencies; whether the credential is guided by national or international standards; how the credential can support lifelong learning; and whether it can be revoked.
Certifications: The Ideal, Reality, and Potential
Among workforce credentials, certifications stand out for their accuracy signaling skills of the certification holder, accessibility to people with varying levels of education and experience, and ability to motivate skill acquisition through recertification requirements. Yet, certifications are still not as widely known or understood as other credentials. This report highlights a set of policy and operational recommendations to increase the use of certifications and better integrate them into U.S. education and training systems as well as for areas in further need of research.
Case Studies: Collaborative Models of Certification
Workcred and its Credentialing Body Advisory Council have developed an initial series of cases studies highlighting collaborative models in certification. The case studies showcase the need being filled, the collaborative process, the lessons learned, and recommendations on next steps. The first three case studies can be accessed here, and more will be added as they are developed.
Variable Impacts of New Credentials for the Older Worker
Through the analysis, which is the first to use the Participant Individual Record Layout data files from the U.S. Department of Labor, this report examines the impact of new credentials on reemployment for older (50+ years) workers. Industry-recognized certificates and certifications were found to have the most value to older workers seeking employment after displacement with respect to reemployment and earnings.

See the complete list of published reports on the Reports page.