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NSC on Defining Quality Non-degree Credentials

National Skills Coalition (NSC) has published a report titled, Expanding Opportunities: Defining Quality Non-Degree Credentials for States, which proposes a consensus definition of quality non-degree credentials and criteria developed in consultation with twelve states and national organizations.  States may choose to adopt this definition and criteria for their own quality assurance systems in order to make sensible budget and policy decisions and advance equity.  NSC recommends four criteria to be considered for a quality credential.  

  • There must be evidence of substantial job opportunities associated with the credential. Evidence must include quantitative data and direct communication with employers.
  • There must be transparent evidence of the competencies mastered by credential holders; competencies that align with expected job opportunities. A definition of a quality credential need not include any standard regarding length of time.
  • There must be evidence of the employment and earnings outcomes of individuals after obtaining the credential.
  • The credential would ideally stack to additional education or training. The gold standard is that credentials stack to additional education or training, but there is not a universal pathway to reach this standard so states agreed it should not be an overarching required criterion in defining a quality credential.

Do these four criteria seem realistic and complete?  If not, what thoughts do you have about changes in support of a workable definition for quality non-degree credentials?

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Comments

Michelle's picture
First

I am cautious about at what level "substantial" will be defined. I work with rural TANF recipients and their access to employment is often limited to their home town or perhaps one town over. If "substantial" is only determined at the state level for programs, urban opportunities may overwhelm the list. Also, for me, "substantially employable" only criteria raise concerns for job seekers who are felons and/or women. 

~Chelle 

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Thanks, Chelle, for your comment.  It's a very good one that I'm also interested in hearing more about from the report's authors.   I'll reach out to them and see what additional information they can share with us about how they defined 'substantial job opportunities' in their work, and what that means for different communities and populations.

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Non-degree credentials, such as certificates, industry certifications, apprenticeship certificates, and occupational licenses can help workers obtain better jobs and reconnect them with further postsecondary education and training opportunities.

Join us for a webinar on Monday, November 4th at 1:00 PM EST  to discuss how defining quality non-degree credentials benefits workers, students, businesses, and state policymakers alike.

NSC has proposed a consensus definition of quality non-degree credentials that states can adopt to make sensible budget and policy decisions, advance equity, and put students on a path to success.

Our webinar will feature:

  • Robert Asaro-Angelo, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce;
  • Zakiya Smith Ellis, New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education;
  • Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Development Advisor to the Governor of Virginia; and
  • Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield, Senior Fellow of National Skills Coalition.

Join us to hear about state policies to support increasing the attainment of quality non-degree credentials, including the importance of robust data policies to ensure equity.

 

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

This recent interview with Anthony Carnavale, Director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, offers some interesting insights into how university Continuing Education departments are leading the conversation on credentials vs. degrees.  The excerpt below highlights an important point.

Is there anything you’d like to add about the importance of making certificates and associate’s credentials more accessible?

 

AC: We’re getting to the point where we have the information, the issue is in the public postsecondary system. Having information isn’t useful if people don’t know to convey it to their audience. You can simply put it on a website, but a lot of this information needs a counselor of some kind to help prospective students through the process of thinking about their education and career.

So, it’s a system we haven’t built yet, but the emerging problem is that there’s a new stage in the life cycle for young people, where they won’t get married and have a family until later in life. Institutions are used to the older way of life where people graduated high school, got a job, got married and then started a family all before the age of 25. This new lifecycle doesn’t have the structure to support them.

This thinking highlighted for me the need to have real conversations with our learners about their needs, and not just giving them access to information.  Dr. Carnavale's quote ' You can simply put it on a website, but a lot of this information needs a counselor...', rings true, but are we prepared to have those conversations?  These talks require time; local labor market information; knowledge of financial aid; AND a knowledge of the learner's unique circumstances, aptitudes and interests.  While some learners may have others on their team who are knowledgeable about these topics, staff career navigators, vocational rehabilitation counselors, etc., they are just as often looking to adult educators for this support.

Where do you feel most prepared?  What are the topics you feel un(der)prepared to have conversations around with learners looking for your counsel, or advise? 

I hope you will think about this and share your thoughts here, or directly to me via e-mail.  I want to know the topics where we can learn together as a community to support the advising of our learners in all of the areas where they need support around making post-secondary decisions for their futures.

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com