July 08, 2015

SIU Carbondale part of national credentialing initiative

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Center for Workforce Development is part of a national initiative to build and test a first-of-its kind “credentialing registry.” SIU is one of three partner organizations that will participate in the project funded through a $2.25 million Lumina Foundation grant to George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Workcred, an affiliate of the American National Standards Institute, is the third partner.

The registry will allow users to easily compare the quality and value of workforce credentials, such as college degrees and industry certifications, using a web-based system with information provided directly by the institutions issuing the credentials. SIU’s Center for Workforce Development will be responsible for the project’s technology development and will work closely with selected partners to include their credential information in open formats.

According to a press release from the partner organizations, the last decade has seen enormous growth in the number and variety of labor market credentials -- college degrees, educational certificates, industry certifications, occupational licenses and such micro-credentials as badges. This growth has intensified already existing confusion among employers, workers, job seekers and students about the quality and value of credentials -- what they mean, what stands behind them and how they relate. 

A coherent and transparent credentialing marketplace -- one that all users can understand and use effectively -- is essential to advancing the interests of the American workforce and economy, and is the vision that motivates this initiative, the release states. 

“The credentialing registry will significantly improve access to and use of the information and data about the broad range and types of credentials across industry sectors and education programs,” said Jeanne Kitchens, associate director of SIU’s Center for Workforce Development and the university’s representative on the project team. “The project will open up more opportunities for helpful web and mobile applications”  

Kitchens said students, parents, employers, education and training programs, accreditation entities, government and other individuals and organizations will directly benefit from access to credential data and information that is provided in useful and reusable formats.

“Currently, it's challenging to find and compare information about credentials by searching multiple websites,” she added. “Sometimes schools don't include information beyond the specific certifications or diplomas they offer, so people don’t understand other options. It is also difficult to find out what credentials employers prefer, whether or not there is room for entry into jobs that prefer or require credentials, or whether multiple credentials ‘stack’ or build upon each other. 

“The credentialing registry will significantly improve access to comparable information in ways that can help solve these challenges,” Kitchens said, noting that the Center for Workforce Development has been involved with state and national partnerships to develop advanced technologies since 2005. 

The grant is for the second phase of a project that began in 2013. Since its introduction, this project has involved more than 50 major stakeholders in the development process and includes an executive advisory committee from the American Council on Education, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Business Roundtable, the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board, the Manufacturing Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

In addition to creating the credentialing registry, the project staff will develop and test an “app” to allow registry users to access the websites of participating credential issuers, build customized directories of credentials based on their own criteria, and publish the results. 

The grant also allows for the design of three additional applications:  one that allows employers to communicate their competency and credentialing requirements; one that supports the review and analysis of "competency-based" resumes, transcripts, and portfolios based on transfer policies and recommendations; and one that allows colleges, certification organizations, and other stakeholders to develop more transparent and assessable competency statements based on employer requirements and competency frameworks. 

In addition to Kitchens, the project’s leadership team consists of Stephen Crawford and Robert Sheets of the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, Roy Swift of Workcred and Robert Jones, former assistant U.S. secretary of labor for employment and training. 

About the George Washington Institute of Public Policy

The George Washington Institute of Public Policy is a research institute at the George Washington University that engages in and supports a wide range of high-quality policy research. 

About Workcred

Formed in 2014 as an affiliate of the American National Standards Institute, Workcred is a nonprofit consulting organization whose 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. 

About SIU

Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a public doctoral research university serving 17,989 students. SIU’s Center for Workforce Development implements education, leadership and technology advancement initiatives that support the development of a college- and career-ready workforce.

About Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive, and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025.