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Standards BEHIND 

ANSI takes a look at some of the standards behind the scenes driving the advancement of innovative technologies and ingenious solutions for global challenges.

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Harnessing the Toolbelt Generation with Standards


A rising number of the Generation Z population (anyone born in 1997 and later) are choosing trade schools over traditional college degrees, influenced by rising college costs and a faster track to employment.  

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal taps into the trend, offering a snapshot of the disenchantment that many high school grads have with the costly and time-consuming college route. What’s more, the median annual pay for new construction hires has outpaced earnings for new hires in both the professional services and information sectors.

“Rising pay and new technologies in fields from welding to machine tooling are giving trade professions a face-lift, helping them shed the image of being dirty, low-end work,” the WSJ reports, which dubs the latest class the “toolbelt generation.” This trend also comes at a time when employers are using apprenticeships to attract talent and fill entry-level trade jobs.

A number of standards support both the traditional and toolbelt generations, including CSA Z301-2024, Equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in apprenticeship programs, designed to improve outcomes for apprentices from equity-deserving groups in the skilled trades. The standard, published by ANSI member and accredited standards developer, CSA Group, was developed to address the low participation and retention rates of these groups in skilled trades and apprenticeships.

Credentials, which indicate abilities to perform specific tasks, are also on the rise outside of the college track. Effective tools to help upskill talent, credentials include everything from microcredentials to certifications, certificates, and licenses. Various valuable workforce credentials are supported by standards.

One such standard that supports personnel certifications is ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024, Conformity assessment – General requirements for bodies operating certification of person. This American National Standard (ANS) and International Standard supports quality in personnel certification by assuring fairness and equity for the applicants; assuring that the examination reflects valid standards of practice and that those standards are measured by a fair, valid, and reliable examination and are continually assessed through a re-certification process; taking away certification from individuals who are found to be unethical and/or incompetent; and assuring a process that facilitates continued competence. The standard was prepared by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Committee on conformity assessment (CASCO). ANSI is the U.S. member body to ISO.

Another standard, ANSI/ASTM E2659, Standard Practice for Certificate Programs, developed by ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International, is a globally recognized ANS that provides guidance to certificate issuers on developing and administering quality assessment-based certificate programs, and to stakeholders for determining the quality of certificate programs. Read more about how standards are a foundational component of quality credentials from ANSI-affiliate Workcred.

ANSI also provides programs and resources to raise awareness of the importance of standards and conformity assessment to students, academia, and the public, with its student resources.

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