Breaking Down Barriers by Connecting Credentials

Over the past year, Lumina Foundation and Corporation for a Skilled Workforce have been facilitating a nationwide dialogue on credentials as part of their Connecting Credentials initiative. The groups they have engaged in this dialogue all agree that too many learners face a confusing and chaotic credentialing marketplace, especially those who are low-income, minority, and otherwise underserved and underrepresented.

Connecting Credentials: From National Dialogue to Collective Action, the initiative’s latest report, outlines the goal of creating a 21st century credentialing ecosystem where all learning matters, all credentials are based on outcomes and competencies, and all credentials are portable, useful, and easily understood by learners and employers.

The report calls for collaborative action on seven critical areas and is creating a dashboard to gauge impact in each arena:

  • Engaging employers
  • Empowering learners
  • Developing common language
  • Creating an open data and technology interface
  • Increasing transparency
  • Advancing equity through public credentialing policy
  • Promoting development of tools

The report comes at a crucial time when nontraditional students need to understand and embrace the importance of obtaining credentials as a critical step along a path to economic security. During the recession recovery, 95 percent of new jobs have gone to workers with at least some postsecondary education. Low-income and working adults have limited postsecondary opportunities, and people of color continue to lag in postsecondary attainment. The economic futures of underserved individuals can be more promising when they have access to programs and tools that enable them to achieve and leverage credentials.

Another effort in the credentials arena is Credential Transparency Initiative, which recently unveiled a tool that addresses how to achieve and leverage credentials. This credential directory tool offers a powerful one-stop shop for job seekers and employers alike.

Clearly, it is daunting to consider the idea of unbundling credentials from our current system of educational institutions and untangling credentialing pathways to create clear routes to educational and economic goals. However, rather than shut down discussions of an idea so large and complex, Connecting Credentials is keeping that conversation going.