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Understanding Certifications’ Impact on Wage, Employment Outcomes, and Educational Attainment through Administrative Data

4/05/2023

Workcred Launches Research-to-Action Fund

What can data tell us about certifications? A new Research-to-Action Fund, established by Workcred, will uncover evidence about the value of certifications to promote labor market outcomes. Professional Testing, Inc. and PSI Services, Inc.—two leading test and measurement companies—as well as the National Restaurant Association Solutions, LLC—a prominent, national foodservice trade association that provides certification services—are providing initial support for the fund.

As part of ongoing initiatives to promote the adoption and use of industry-recognized certifications, the fund will initially support research on the information and tools needed to drive participation in linking administrative records by certification issuers at scale, which can significantly improve the data available to individuals and employers about how certifications support career entry and advancement. Workcred’s goal is to help connect data on industry-recognized certifications with educational attainment and aggregate earnings data to better understand career and credential pathways into the workforce.

One of the challenges to improving understanding is the lack of data about outcomes or impacts on individuals who hold a certification. Despite their prevalence in the workforce, there is no complete, centralized source of data on the outcomes or impact of certifications. While there have been isolated efforts to collect this data by several U.S. states, as well as self-reported data from certification bodies, outcomes data are fragmented and incomplete. In addition, there is a growing need to understand the role of certifications in career and credentialing pathways, including the impact on wages, which can help the certification bodies serve both candidates and employers more effectively.

To provide the much-needed transparency for certifications, multiple efforts are underway to link multiple data sets. One such effort is the National Student Clearinghouse Industry Credentials Initiative, which matches administrative data from certification issuers, educational attainment and enrollment data from colleges and universities, and aggregate wage data from the U.S. Census Bureau. With more robust outcomes data, certification bodies will be able to better demonstrate the return on investment of their certifications, and states and federal agencies will be better positioned to determine what they consider to be credentials of value.

“Sharing insights about the value of certifications is essential to our mission, and we are delighted to be working with Professional Testing, PSI, and the National Restaurant Association Solutions to highlight the importance of gathering outcomes data for certifications,” said Dr. Roy Swift, executive director of Workcred. “We hope that this fund will attract additional supporters and become a research hub about certifications and their value in the workforce.”

“The evolution in the education-workforce ecosystem that we are witnessing is one where the interplay and additive relationship between certifications and learning continuums needs to be better understood and valued,” said Rick Torres, president and CEO of the National Student Clearinghouse. “This effort provides an excellent opportunity, through normalized data, to shine a brighter light on the impact of outcomes to learners, issuers, and the economy in general. For more than 20 years, the National Student Clearinghouse has been providing research that leverages trusted normalized data and welcomes this great opportunity to extend our learning and understanding.”

“Professional Testing believes the future of certification depends on demonstrating the value of independent certification for professionals and the workforce, and is honored to help fund this important research,” said Professional Testing president and CEO David Cox. “As an industry, we lack data on the value of certification and I hope this research will be just the beginning of and catalyst for systematic and ongoing investments in the study of professional credentialing.”

“We are delighted to support this important research by Workcred. Every day we see the impact that credentials have on helping test takers realize their dreams, goals, and ambitions,” said Dr. Rory McCorkle, senior vice president of global business development and client success at PSI. “As a company that delivers more than 22 million tests a year, collaborating with industry partners to aggregate data and demonstrating successful credentialing outcomes is highly valuable for our clients and the industry at large, and for individuals seeking to improve their lives through continuous learning and development.”

“Our role in Workcred links clearly to our efforts to identify the value of our credentials in the hospitality world. The research being conducted by Workcred and the data it produces will be key to the long-term career solutions that are shaped by credentials,” said Larry Lynch, senior vice president of health, safety and regulatory services at the National Restaurant Association, and president of the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals.

Find out more about the initiative and stay tuned for further updates on the project webpage.

About Workcred

Founded in 2014, Workcred is a non-profit affiliate of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that focuses on strengthening workforce quality by improving the credentialing system, ensuring its ongoing relevance, and helping employers, workers, educators, and governments better understand the value of certification.

About the National Student Clearinghouse

The National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit formed in 1993, is the trusted source for and leading provider of higher education verifications and electronic education record exchanges. Besides working with 3,600 postsecondary institutions, the Clearinghouse also provides thousands of high schools and districts with continuing collegiate enrollment, progression, and completion statistics on their alumni. For more details, visit studentclearinghouse.org.

About Professional Testing, Inc.

Professional Testing Inc. develops, administers, and maintains licensure and certification examination programs. Their full range of client services includes program audits, accreditation preparation, policy development, recertification requirements, implementation of effective organizational and governance structures, and ethics and disciplinary procedures. Their team provides expertise in best certification practices and program management.

Their mission is to satisfy clients' needs in planning, developing, implementing, and maintaining high quality examinations. Find out more at www.proftesting.com.

About PSI Services, Inc.

PSI is a global leader in secure, data-driven workforce solutions, providing best-in-class assessment content through technology that is backed by exceptional test taker experiences, innovative test delivery solutions, and best practice test development. PSI partners with clients in a rapidly evolving landscape to deliver more than 22 million tests every year. PSI’s long history of testing is grounded in proven science, the latest technology, and extensive operational expertise. Their unwavering focus is on delivering frictionless and fair test taker experiences, without compromising test integrity – whether it’s through valid test content, authorized test centers, secure remote testing with online proctoring, multi-modal test delivery, testing windows, or continuous testing on-demand.

PSI partners with test sponsors covering the breadth of professional sectors, from healthcare and IT to numerous highly specialized industries. And they develop and deliver licensure tests across multiple industries including insurance, real estate, barber and cosmetology, construction and trades. Learn more at www.psiexams.com.

About National Restaurant Association Solutions, LLC

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises nearly one million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of fifteen million employees. Together with 52 state associations, the National Restaurant Association is a network of professional organizations dedicated to serving every restaurant through advocacy, education, and food safety. See more at restaurant.org.

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