Industry Credentials Open Doors to Jobs, Business Growth

01.01.2015
Workforce

By Deb Presbie

Aiming to fill a position on its production floor, a manufacturer narrowed the search to two candidates of seemingly equal promise. One of them, however, had an industry-approved credential specific to the job: signifying that the candidate could make an immediate contribution. Which candidate would you choose?

Every hire is a gamble, but choosing the candidate with the industry-recognized credential is a pretty good bet. That’s because having a credential means that the individual has received training in a specific area and has skills needed for the work to be done.

“Credentials really mean something,” says Judy Resnick, executive director of CBIA’s Education Foundation. “They help employers validate job candidates’ skills, verifying that people have the knowledge and ability to do a job.”

Many industry credentials have been created by business associations and employers to reap the benefits of job candidates who have what it takes.

An example of widely accepted precision manufacturing credentials are those established by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), whose stakeholders represent 6,000 American companies.

Created in 1995 to maintain a globally competitive workforce, NIMS has developed performance standards for nine distinct Level I machining skills, or credentials.

Major trade associations in manufacturing have invested more than $7.5 million in private funds for the development of these standards and the accreditation of schools that adopt them.

Credentials come in a variety of forms, including educational diplomas, certificates, degrees, occupational licenses, registered apprenticeship certificates, certifications from industry or professional associations, and certificates for specific skill sets or competencies based on standards developed or endorsed by employers in specific industries or occupations.

While there’s an increasing focus on the use of industry-recognized credentials to certify skilled workers across the nation, progress has been a bit slower in the Northeast.

Yet there has been progress.

Logistics Credentials and More

Goodwin College in East Hartford recently began offering two credential programs from the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC), designed by and for the manufacturing industry and endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM.)

Goodwin’s credential programs include Certified Production Technician (CPT) and Certified Logistics Technician (CLT), which certify frontline manufacturing and logistics workers. College credits earned for these programs can be applied to associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. The ability to stack these short-term, industry-recognized credentials into a career-focused educational pathway is especially attractive to students who work and have families.

The ACT National Career Readiness Certificate is a measure of basic skill competencies: such as reading, applied mathematical reasoning, and the ability to locate information and think critically to solve work-related problems: necessary for success in an industry-specific training program or occupation.

The use of the Career Readiness Certificate by community-based organizations and workforce development programs has increased in Connecticut in recent years.

The importance of credentials is reflected in research and workforce legislation, including Vice President Joe Biden’s government-wide review of federal workforce and training programs. It’s also a part of the newly reauthorized Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) governing the federal employment and training system.

Return on Investment

With as little as one year of study, a credential can make a difference in terms of future earnings. Research consistently shows that even one year of study after high school results in earnings significantly above those of workers with no postsecondary education.

“A postsecondary education, particularly a degree or industry-recognized credential related to jobs in demand, is the most important determinant of differences in workers’ lifetime earnings and incomes,” according to What Works in Job Training: A Synthesis of the Evidence, a report prepared by the secretaries of Labor, Commerce, Education, and Health and Human Services.

While the value of credentials in some industries is very clear: for example, a commercial driver’s license required to work in certain transportation occupations: the value of others can be harder to measure.

But what’s certain is that having credentials provides an advantage to the employer, who benefits from the employee’s expertise. And they provide a fast track to employment, career advancement, and earning potential.

Deb Presbie is a program manager with CBIA’s Education Foundation. Contact her at deb.presbie@cbia.com.

For updates on CBIA’s education and workforce development programs, click here.

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