According to the ten certificate-issuing organizations that applied to participate in ANSI-CAP, the overall quality of their certificate program has tangibly improved simply by virtue of progressing through the assessment and accreditation process.
All of these organizations also agreed that they would recommend to other organizations that they participate in ANSI-CAP as a way to add value, recognition, and increased quality to their certificate program offerings.
"Over the past decade, we have seen incredible growth in the credentialing field. Today, there are tens of thousands of certificate programs in this country - a tremendous industry that, until the conception of ANSI-CAP, has had no formal process for review and recognition of quality programs," explained Dr. Roy Swift, ANSI senior director, personnel credentialing accreditation programs. "This program is truly breaking new ground and meeting a very serious marketplace need for the assessment and recognition of programs that improve the quality of the American workforce. Thanks to the thoughtful comments from our applicants and assessors, we are thrilled that ANSI's efforts to create a high-quality third-party certificate accreditation program have been validated and judged a success."
Launched in 2009 to accredit organizations that issue education and training certificates to U.S. workers, ANSI-CAP provides neutral, third-party accreditation that a given certificate program meets ASTM E2659-09, Standard Practice for Certificate Programs, an American National Standard developed by ASTM International.
By demonstrating compliance to this standard, accredited certificate programs will further the development of a well-educated and qualified workforce, one of the chief goals outlined by President Obama during last week's State of the Union address. The accreditation program is also expected to provide quality benchmarks for the design of future certificate programs. With these evaluations and benchmarks in place, workers and employers will be better able to determine the value and meaning of training and educational certificates.
In total, more than 50 participants engaged in the January 14 validation dialogue, including representatives from the ten certificate-issuing organizations who applied to the ANSI-CAP pilot, ten assessors who reviewed their applications to assess compliance with ASTM E2659-09, and representatives from ASTM International, the organization responsible for developing the American National Standard upon which ANSI-CAP is based.
Together with members of the ANSI-CAP Accreditation Committee, participants broke into three mixed groups to evaluate the program and discuss any recommended changes or enhancements. They examined the application and accreditation process, including the application form and required documentation, as well as the American National Standard itself and other guidance documents developed by ANSI staff in support of the program.
One topic raised by all three breakout groups was the considerable value of the interaction with their assessors during on-site visits. Described as one of the most important and clarifying parts of the accreditation process, these visits are an essential component of ANSI-CAP, which follows the requirements outlined in the international standard ISO/IEC 17011, General Requirements for Accreditation Bodies Accrediting Conformity Assessment Bodies. By calling out the particular benefits of on-site assessments, applicants and assessors alike have underscored the value of ANSI's accreditation services offerings, which rely upon ISO/IEC 17011 and have as their cornerstone a philosophy of continuous quality improvement.
The pilot ANSI-CAP accreditation decisions are expected to be announced next week. On March 1, 2010, ANSI-CAP will be open for participation from all interested certificate-issuing organizations. Subsequent accreditation decisions will be made by the ANSI-CAP Accreditation Committee and announced on a quarterly basis.
"On behalf of ANSI's Board of Directors, members, and staff, I would like to extend my gratitude to the pilot participants, assessors, and Accreditation Committee members who have contributed immensely to this program's development and launch," said S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and CEO. "Interest in ANSI-CAP is growing within both the public and private sectors to involve all aspects of the American workforce. We wouldn't have arrived at this level of success without their enthusiasm, expertise, support, and involvement."
Questions about ANSI-CAP can be directed to Turan Ayvaz, program manager, Certificate Accreditation Program (firstname.lastname@example.org 202.331.3635).
Both standards that guide the ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program - ASTM E2659-09 and ISO/IEC 17011 - are available for purchase on the ANSI eStandards Store at webstore.ansi.org.