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Credentials Matter

A National Landscape of High School Student Credential Attainment Compared to Workforce Demand

About the Project

Credentials Matter is a partnership between ExcelinEd and Burning Glass Technologies. This ongoing, comprehensive research project seeks to understand the industry credential landscape in the United States and provide actionable data analysis and resources for states and the public.

This project was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.

The Narrow Ladder: The Value of Industry Certifications in the Job Market

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Credentials Matter: A National Landscape of High School Student Credential Attainment Compared to Workforce Demand

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The Narrow Ladder: The Value of Industry Certifications in the Job Market

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Credentials Matter

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Not a single state has its industry credentials “highly aligned” with the job market, while more than 20 states don’t collect the data needed to tell whether they are aligned with what employers want or not, according to new research by ExcelinEd and Burning Glass Technologies.

The Credentials Matter report is the result of an ongoing research partnership designed to shed light to provide new insights into the alignment between the credentials high school student earn and the demand for those credentials in the workforce. The project is intended to inform key policy decisions about which career pathways and associated credentials lead to middle and high wage employment opportunities and continued advancement for students.

Key findings include:

  • Only about half of all states (28) collect quantitative data on the attainment of credentials.
  • Of the 24 states where data was made available, no state is highly aligned in terms of supply of credentials earned by high school students and demand for those credentials in the job market.
  • States do not have consistent definitions for what constitutes an industry-recognized credential—even though high school students earn hundreds of thousands of credentials each year.
  • Many credentials are not explicitly requested in employer job listings, despite the fact that the credentials may be required or desired for the position.

The companion Credentials Matter website allows policymakers to review state-by-state data on credential alignment, where data is available.

Credentials Matter: Are high school students earning credentials that align with workforce demand?

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Credentials Matter: A National Landscape of High School Student Credential Attainment Compared to Workforce Demand

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