States support a wide range of career and technical education (CTE) programs that feature industry-recognized credentials, but how effective are they at preparing high school students for a future career and long-term success? Credentials Matter, a first-of-its-kind analysis by ExcelinEd and Burning Glass Technologies, examines whether the credentials students earn align with real-world employer demand. This project presents the most extensive data collection and analysis of supply, demand and alignment data of industry-recognized credentials earned in states.
Are Students Earning Credentials That Prepare Them for Today’s Labor Market and Long-Term Success?
According to recent data, 46 percent of U.S. employers report difficulty filling open positions, with skilled trades the hardest jobs to fill. Industry-recognized credentials have the potential to convey a student’s workforce readiness and to help address this skills gap because they validate the knowledge and skills required for success in a given occupation or industry.
In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that full-time employees with an industry credential earn more than their counterparts without one. And in some cases, the salaries of non-degree credential holders were found to be similar to workers with college degrees, according to research by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
But how well do the credentials high school students earn in-state CTE programs align with employer needs? The Credentials Matter research uncovered some thought-provoking findings.
Only about half of all states (28) collect quantitative data on the attainment of credentials. This means that only approximately half of all states can analyze the credentials their students are earning and evaluate whether those credentials align with labor demand in their states.