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The Value of Workforce Credentials Continues to Grow

Strong economic growth continues to foster a competitive labor market, with low unemployment and robust hiring. At ACT, we are working with economic development and workforce groups to promote employer awareness about the best solutions to drive efficiencies in finding the right person for the right job.

Hiring a new employee is an exciting event. It may mean the business is growing and new staff is needed, or a vacant position due to a promotion or turnover is being filled with a newcomer to the organization.

Hiring, of course, also comes with unknowns. Does the candidate possess foundational workplace skills? Will the prospective employee be able to perform at the required level? Does the individual possess the hard and soft skills needed to succeed in the organization?

Employers are increasingly addressing these concerns by relying on industry-recognized credentials—degrees, certificates, industry certifications, licenses, apprenticeships and badges. The goal is to validate the knowledge and skills of prospective employees and save valuable time in the recruitment process.

Credentials allow for employers to not only better identify qualified candidates but to also provide more effective matches between candidates and jobs. This instills confidence that new hires can succeed in their work immediately and employers can realize benefits like cost savings on training, improved productivity and reduced turnover. (Check out these case studies for more info).

Equally important, job candidates can distinguish themselves with industry-recognized credentials. They may gain a leg up in the competitive applicant pool or leverage quality credentials as a tool for career advancement.

Recently, the Lumina Foundation developed the Connecting Credential Framework. Among its goals was the need to address the growing confusion in the credential world. It cited an 800 percent surge over the past three decades in the number of certificates issued by higher education institutions and other providers of education and training.

To help “connect the dots” among diverse credentials, it led the way to instill a common language to describe what recipients of each credential should know and be able to do.

ACT contributed to field testing the Connecting Credential Framework by conducting a crosswalk comparison of the ACT® WorkKeys® National Career Readiness Certificate® (NCRC®) to the Framework. This enables the competencies that NCRC validates as an entry-level credential to be compared with programs and credentials that are also aligned with the Framework.

The appeal of a widely recognized certificate like the NCRC was further bolstered after it was identified as one of six key criteria that matter most to global corporate location decision-makers looking for places to grow operations in the U.S. Additional factors that influence business climate rankings include taxes, higher ed R&D spending, fiscal health, college attainment and electricity costs, according to an analysis by the Industrial Asset Management Council

As the value of credentials continues to be better understood and appreciated, they are increasingly embraced as a means to ensure our economy remains competitive.

Business and industries can leverage credentials to communicate exactly what skills are needed for a productive workforce. At the same time, credentials help align schools and post-secondary institutions with employer needs to close the skills gaps – wherever the economy may be in the business cycle.

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About ACT

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as a leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality assessments grounded in nearly 60 years of research. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions designed to provide personalized insights that help individuals succeed from elementary school through career.