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New Report Highlights the Role Played by ANSI Accreditation in the Development of an Effective Workforce Credentialing Market in the U.S.

The Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW), a national nonprofit organization focused on job- and skill-related issues, recently released a report looking at the current state of competency-based credentials in the United States and examining the steps necessary to establish a fair, functioning market for these types of credentials. Titled "Making a Market for Competency-Based Credentials," the report noted significant issues related to the lack of third-party or industry validation for most credentials, with less than 10% of existing certifications currently having third-party validation.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Personnel Credentialing Accreditation Programs were cited as a positive example of third-party accreditation of competency-based workforce credentials, and the Institute was praised for its involvement in various efforts to bolster the legitimacy and validation of credentials. The report also suggested that ANSI should collaborate with the federal government, representatives of industry, labor, credentialing bodies, and other stakeholders to establish a public-private council focused on the creation of an overarching quality credentialing framework for the United States, including general quality assurance criteria and strategies. ANSI is increasingly viewed as an organization that can effectively coordinate these sorts of efforts on a national level; in January, representatives of CSW and other skill-focused organizations sent a letter to the White House urging government collaboration with ANSI to establish a public-private skills and credentials council similar to that described in the report.

Among the report's findings was a trend toward non-academic skill-based credentials, driven in part by the rising number of positions requiring applicants to have special training or experience beyond just a high school diploma. However, the report also found that the existing market for credentials of this sort is not fully formed and suffers from systemic issues related to the lack of transparent, portable, nationally recognized competency-based credentials. George Washington University (GWU)'s George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP) recently received a grant to fund a study examining how ANSI can work to coordinate U.S. standards and conformity assessment systems to improve transparency and trust in U.S. labor market credentialing [see related story].

Significant backing from employers was found to be a major factor in the success of many widely used credentials, with the healthcare and IT industries highlighted as fields where these sorts of credentials are used. Other concerns raised included the lack of clear, reliable data on the return on investment for employers, workers, and other stakeholders in connection with competency-based credentialing and the ongoing underfunding of credentialing initiatives.

The report was developed by a team that included ANSI board member Dr. Keith W. Bird, who serves as CSW's senior policy fellow for workforce and postsecondary education. Dr. Roy Swift, ANSI senior director of personnel credentialing accreditation programs, and Dr. Vijay Krishna, ANSI director of personnel certification accreditation programs, provided support and expertise to the project.

The full report is available online. To learn more about ANSI's Personnel Credentialing Accreditation Programs, visit the official website.

Note: A previously published version of this story erroneously stated that only about 5% of existing certifications currently have third-party validation, rather than less than 10%. This error will be corrected shortly in the report. ANSI regrets the error.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]