According to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the answer could lie in a national, publicly accessible credentialing information system. Such a tool would help to define and distinguish quality workforce-related certificates and certifications for job seekers and employers alike.
"There is certainly no shortage of options for individuals seeking to boost their job qualifications through a professional certificate or certification," said Dr. Roy Swift, senior director for ANSI's personnel credentialing accreditation programs. "But within some industries where demand is at its highest, the choice can be absolutely overwhelming. Consumers need an easy way to make an educated decision about their career development so they don't waste time and money buying a credential to nowhere."
The concept of a national credentialing information system was discussed at an ANSI-hosted forum on workforce development in Washington, DC, on May 31, 2012.
Participants included representatives from the American Legion, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Gates Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Georgetown University, the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, the Association for Career and Technical Education, the Center for Workforce Development, and Solutions for Information Design LLC.
Discussions at the forum also centered around the need for improved communication among employers, government agencies, educators, and individuals seeking credentials. Each of these stakeholder groups is looking for ways to define quality credentials and to differentiate among credentials; a single system that meets everyone's needs would be the most efficient approach.
"Competency-based credentialing systems can reduce employer search and transaction costs, increase job security and portability, and help ensure competitive, quality jobs," said Dr. Keith Bird, senior policy fellow for workforce and postsecondary education at the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, and a member of ANSI's Board of Directors. "Quality, standards-based credentials are one tool that offer promise in helping create a workforce that works, and an American economy built to last."
In response to strong interest from participants in continuing the discussion, ANSI will be hosting a follow-up meeting in fall 2012. For more information, contact Roy Swift (202.331.3617; firstname.lastname@example.org).