By some estimates 65% of high school graduates will end up in jobs that require some kind of certification, certificate, license, or other postsecondary credential. Yet understanding the actual impact of credentials and their value to graduates is still hard to pin down.
In the light of recent news coverage about the challenge of measuring credentials and their impact, we thought it was a good time to revisit Credentials Matter, research Burning Glass Technologies conducted earlier this year with ExcelinEd, which sought to map the landscape of credentials in K-12 education. A key part of the effort was finding out how states track these credentials and whether they line up with what employers actually want. A credential may well certify that a student has certain skills, but if employers don’t ask for the credential in job postings it may not provide much of a boost in the job market.
The report found 28 states–just over half–collect quantitative data on the attainment of credentials. That means in the other states there isn’t enough data to know whether credentials align with employer demand in that state or not.
Of the 24 states where data were collected and analyzed for the report, no state turned out to be “highly aligned” in terms of supply for credentials earned by high school students versus the demand for those credentials in the job market.
Two additional findings show the challenges facing the country in creating a good credential system. First, states do not have consistent definitions for what constitutes an “industry-recognized credential.” And secondly, many credentials are not explicitly requested in employer job listings, despite the fact that the credentials may be required or desired for the position.
To explore these findings state by state and read the full report, visit the interactive versions of these maps at CredentialsMatter.org.