Unlike traditional academic credentials, which signal that students have attended and completed a course of study, industry certifications signal what learners know and what job-related tasks they can perform – occupation-specific knowledge and skills measured by tests developed by industry groups.

Certifications hold out great promise for students and employers: helping students identify skills in demand in the job market and, for employers, taking the guesswork out of hiring. But many employers, even in industries with well-established certifications, know little about what credentialing is available or how it might help them address growing skills gaps.

Opportunity America’s new report, Industry certifications: A better bridge from school to work?, is based on interviews with two dozen employers, some of whom rely on industry certifications when hiring and promoting workers and some who do not. Do employers have confidence in industry credentialing? Does it help firms hire more prepared workers? Are certifications living up to their promise to provide a better bridge from school to work?

Industry certifications: A better bridge from school to work? September 2019

Burning Glass The Narrow Ladder October 2017
Strada Education Network and Lumina Foundation Certified Value May 2019
National Skills Coalition Expanding Opportunities September 2019
Credential Engine Counting US Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials September 2019
Workcred Examining the Quality, Market Value and Effectiveness of Manufacturing Credentials in the US July 2018

Getting credit for what you know The Atlantic, 1-29-15
The certification revolution Thomas B. Fordham Institute policy paper, December 2014
Education for upward mobility Thomas B. Fordham Institute conference, December 2014