In the midst of the pandemic, more than half of Americans recently surveyed by the Strada Education Network said they do not believe a good job is within their reach. Another 44 percent said they are not equipped with the right skills and credentials. A recent webinar session, "Strada Public Viewpoint - Confidence in Education's Promise: Perspectives on Access and Barriers to Good Jobs," focused on solutions to these workforce challenges and highlighted Workcred's mission to educate the public about how certifications and certificates align workers with meaningful careers in a challenging job market.
Isabel Cardenas-Navia, Workcred's director of research, highlighted recent research completed by Workcred that shows the value of certifications and certificates in supporting displaced workers seeking employment. She joined panelists Dennis Dio Parker, consultant, North American Talent Development, Toyota Motor North America, and Andrew R. Hanson, director of research, Strada Center for Consumer Insights, in a discussion of the Strada Education Network survey of over 21,000 Americans at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey captured insights on the pandemic's impact on work in education. Jenna Schuette Talbot, senior vice president of strategy, Whiteboard Advisors, moderated the session.
Mr. Hanson noted that while recent statistics show that there are 11 million unemployed Americans – down from a peak of 23 million in April – there are still nearly twice as many unemployed people compared to before the pandemic. The most recent Strada Education Network findings show that Americans feel stuck in their current employment situations and remain skeptical of the value of credentials and education to advance their careers.
As part of the panel discussion on the findings, Dr. Cardenas-Navia identified the top qualities of certifications that make them well-suited to individuals seeking new credentials as a pathway to employment: certifications reflect a mastery of job-relevant competencies, can often be gained within a short time-frame, and are relatively low-cost when compared with other credentials.
"Certifications are a great way for someone to gain entry into a meaningful career," she noted, and explained that they are a third-party assessment of competencies that are specific to a role or job. She added that frequently, certifications are developed in partnership with employers, and they exist across a variety of industry sectors, including manufacturing, hospitality, retail, healthcare, and technology.
To help simplify understanding of the certification process, Workcred offers a list of questions on its website to help job seekers and educators alike determine quality certifications.
And just this month, Workcred (an ANSI-affiliate), in partnership with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU), and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), and funded by Lumina Foundation, published a new framework to support the development and scaling of certification-degree pathways. The framework identifies examples, opportunities, benefits, and challenges associated with integrating industry certifications into bachelor’s degrees.
Access the full Strada Center for Consumer Insights webinar on demand.