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Industry Credentials: a Valuable Student Pathway to Success

Pilot Program Identifies Industry Credential Attainment and Effect on Wages and Earning Potential

by NSC Blog | Nov 2, 2020 | Electronic Transcript Exchange, Postsecondary Data Partnership, StudentTracker, StudentTracker for High Schools, Transcript & Data Exchange Services |

Part 2 of a 4-part series

It is difficult to quantify the impact of any learner’s industry credential attainment on labor market outcomes.  

As the variety of industry credentials being offered has exploded, the need for information about what constitutes a quality credential grows across the education and workforce ecosystem. The pandemic accelerated this need as education and workforce stakeholders desire ways to get people back to work and to know if industry credentials provide a quicker pathway to livable wages.

The Clearinghouse, in partnership with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)/Manufacturing Institute (MI), is working to address this challenge in a pilot project titled, Industry Certification Education and Performance Data System. This pilot, initially focused on the manufacturing industry, is the result of more than four years of effort with the overarching goal of showing how learning is happening across the country and to represent it accurately for both education and workforce communities.

In 2018, the Clearinghouse and NAM/MI began partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to discover aggregate labor market outcomes using industry credential and postsecondary outcomes data. First, the Clearinghouse collected industry credential attainment information from manufacturing industry certifying bodies. Next, it matched that student-level information with the Clearinghouse’s existing enrollment and degree attainment information. Finally, the Clearinghouse provided directory information, within the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines, for enrollment and degree attainment to the Census Bureau, along with the industry credential attainment information.

Nevertheless, the file the Clearinghouse sent to the Census Bureau during the pilot program included approximately 119,000 unique learners who earned approximately 302,000 credentials, primarily in the manufacturing industry. Using the credential information, the Census Bureau was able to produce aggregate wage outcomes for credential programs. This is a key part of the process of connecting the dots between industry credential attainment and its long-term effect on wages and earning potential.

Looking ahead, the Clearinghouse plans to expand the pilot to more industries, and long-term, integrate this kind of longitudinal information into StudentTracker and the Postsecondary Data Partnership services to help industry, learners, and education institutions.

Email the Industry Credentials team at industrycredentials@studentclearinghouse.org to learn more!

“We’ve been pleased to see that the preliminary results from the pilot shows wages increasing for five-years after attainment of entry-level manufacturing certifications.”

Gardner Carrick
Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, NAM/MI