A recent report released by the U.S. Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Labor (DOL) outlines proposed solutions to support the development of high-quality career pathways systems. The federal report summarizes responses to a joint Request for Information (RFI) to solicit information and recommendations about "career pathway systems" from stakeholders in the public and private sectors. It highlights the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI's) role as an accreditor of personnel certification bodies and certificate issuers, ensuring that credentials are valuable to the employees and employers.
The "Career Pathways" report was released ahead of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), set to take effect in July. WIOA, the first legislative reform in 15 years of the public workforce system, is "designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy."
According to The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), the "career pathway approach" serves to connect progressive levels of education, training, support services, and credentials for specific occupations in a way that optimizes the progress and success of individuals with varying levels of abilities and needs. Such an approach facilitates opportunities for people to engage in further education and employment and achieve economic success. The approach also engages employers and aids them in meeting their workforce needs, and helps states and communities strengthen their workforces and economies.
RFI respondents included 141 individuals, institutions of higher learning, labor unions, state agencies, workforce investment boards, businesses, and nonprofits. Overall, six recommendations were most frequent among the RFI responses, including:
The report also recommends the adoption of standards such as ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024, Conformity assessment -- General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons, and ANSI/ASTM E2659-09, Standard Practice for Certificate Programs, "to ensure that credentials mean something to the employee and the employer."
ANSI accreditation supports the quality and validation of personnel certifications and certificate programs, offering a recognized mark of quality and oversight to the credentialing marketplace. ANSI accredits against the international and American National Standard ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024, the benchmark for personnel certification. This standard is designed to provide assurance that accredited personnel certifiers are appropriately assessing the knowledge and skills possessed by professionals and have a re-certification program in place to ensure continual updating of job-related knowledge and skills.
ANSI also carries out important work in this area through the ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program (ANSI-CAP), which accredits organizations that issue education and training assessment-based certificates to the U.S. workforce. ANSI-CAP provides neutral, third-party attestation that a given certificate program meets ASTM E2659-09, an American National Standard developed by ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International.
In order to support the creation of a competency-driven credentialing ecosystem, ANSI's Board of Directors recently approved the creation of Workcred, a new ANSI affiliate. Formed in 2014, Workcred's mission is to strengthen workforce quality by improving the credentialing system, ensuring its ongoing relevance, and preparing employers, workers, educators, and governments to use it effectively. To learn more about Workcred and its activities, visit www.workcred.org.