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Workcred Releases Report: “Examining the Return on Investment of Manufacturing Credentials”


Research Funded by the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Which credentials do manufacturers and workers value the most? As part of its long-term research to assess how to effectively use credentials to support a competitive manufacturing workforce, Workcred, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), has released a report on Examining the Return on Investment of Manufacturing Credentials.

Credentials—including microcredentials, certificates, certifications, apprenticeships, badges, licenses, and associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees—help validate workers’ skills and competencies, and communicate these skills to potential employers in a portable, transparent way, serving as a valuable asset in the job market. For the U.S. manufacturing industry in need of talent and those looking to upskill, quality credentials can bolster effectiveness, efficiency, and performance of the labor market and improve the quality of the U.S. workforce.

The report identifies how employers and workers value credentials, which credentials they value, and recommendations to support a highly skilled and efficient manufacturing workforce. The research builds on Workcred’s 2018 report, Examining the Quality, Market Value, and Effectiveness of Manufacturing Credentials in the United States, which found that credentials have uneven use in the manufacturing industry, and provided recommendations to help improve understanding about the content, use, and value of credentials.

Reflecting current insights, the new study is based on interviews with 51 front-line workers (credential holders), hiring managers, and supervisors across 15 small- and medium-sized manufacturing facilities in the U.S. Specifically, the report is broken down into three parts:

Part 1: Background and Methodology provides data from related studies, describes the types of facilities and individuals that participated in this research, and explains how interviews were analyzed. The report also considers the likely self-selection bias of the participants who volunteered for the interviews, and the potential impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on participation.

Part 2: Results and Discussion reveals common themes and attitudes from both workers and employers about credentials and their use in manufacturing. For example, employers suggested that they valued credentials in job candidates and expressed a desire that more candidates had credentials; meanwhile, workers often have limited knowledge of which credentials are valuable. The report provides further details on gaps in knowledge and the value of credentials.

Part 3: Recommendations is intended to be practical and actionable, making an immediate impact by supporting more effective use of credentials by manufacturing facilities. This section includes guidelines for implementation by policymakers, and recommendations for manufacturing facilities and future research. As an example, the report recommends that hiring managers should clearly signal the credentials/skills valued in hiring and promotion.

“Workcred is thrilled to build on our work about the value of credential attainmentcaptured through the lenses of manufacturing workers and leaders, who know what it takes to succeed in a sector full of possibilities and rapid growth,” said Dr. Roy Swift, executive director, Workcred. “We are proud to share recommendations that will help align top skillsets with jobs to enhance the industry.”

As with its previous report, Workcred conducted the research with a financial assistance award from NIST, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Since 1988, NIST MEP has worked to strengthen U.S. manufacturing by improving the competitiveness of U.S. companies. Through its national network, the program makes manufacturing technologies, processes, and services more accessible to small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

About Workcred

Formed in 2014, Workcred is an affiliate of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 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. Workcred’s vision is a labor market that relies on the relevance, quality, and value of workforce credentials for opportunities, growth, and development.      

About ANSI

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity. Its membership is comprised of businesses, professional societies and trade associations, standards developers, government agencies, and consumer and labor organizations.

The Institute represents and serves the diverse interests of more than 270,000 companies and organizations and 30 million professionals worldwide. ANSI is the official U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via the U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). For more information, visit                                                                   


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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