Credentials Count: Identifying Ohio’s Industry Credentials and How You Can Get Involved
By: Emily Passias
Several weeks ago, the Ohio Department of Education released the 2016-2017 list of approved industry-recognized credentials, and I shared a little about why credentials are important for students, schools, businesses and communities. The credentials allow students to qualify for high school graduation through the credential and WorkKeys pathway, as well as give schools and districts credit for their efforts to prepare students for careers on their report cards. Today, I want to dig a little deeper into how we identify credentials for the list and how you can get involved in the process.
Which industry credentials?
All credentials are not created equal. Some credentials are the gatekeeper to employment — if you don’t have it, you’re not getting the job. One example of this is a state cosmetology license. If you want to work in Ohio as a cosmetologist, you must obtain the license first. It’s necessary for employment.
Other credentials fall into the “nice to have” category. These credentials validate that potential employees can perform particular tasks or have particular knowledge and skills. Employers use them in their hiring processes and may give applicants preference over those without the credentials.
And yet other credentials exist that, frankly, don’t have much value in the labor market at all. Employers don’t use or value them, and some aren’t even aware of them.
So, how do we decide which credentials to include in our system? We don’t want to encourage students to spend time, energy and money earning credentials that aren’t valued by employers — that doesn’t serve our students or our Ohio businesses well. The key is to encourage credentials that are in demand by Ohio employers.
When reviewing and updating the approved industry-recognized credential list, we identify those in-demand credentials in two ways. First, we use Ohio’s in-demand job list to identify Ohio’s most pressing labor market needs. Tying the industry credential list to Ohio’s in-demand jobs is key — as I mentioned above, earning credentials that aren’t valuable in the labor market doesn’t serve Ohio’s students or Ohio’s businesses.
We then scour job ads for those in-demand jobs to identify credentials that Ohio employers are asking for. Once we’ve identified the credentials tied to Ohio’s in-demand jobs, we do additional research on those credentials. What are the requirements to get the credential? Is it used as a standalone credential or as part of a stackable series or bundle of credentials needed for employment? We use that information to finalize the industry credential list and the point values associated with those credentials within the graduation pathway.
The second way we identify credentials for addition to the list is via application. Educators, business people and community members at large are invited to submit applications to the Department for credentials to be considered for the list. The main criteria, as set by the State Board of Education, is that credentials added to the list have evidence of significant and ongoing employer demand, at least at the regional level. The application window to submit credentials for consideration for next year’s list is open through Dec. 31.
Between our identification of credentials tied to Ohio’s in-demand jobs and credentials added via the application process, Ohio’s approved credential list contains more than 200 approved industry-recognized credentials!
In my next post, I’ll discuss new and innovative opportunities to build programs that help seniors earn industry credentials as part of their pathways to graduation and success in their future careers.
Let’s keep the conversation going!
- I’d love to hear your thoughts on industry-recognized credentials and helping students be prepared for success.
- How are you communicating with families about industry-recognized credentials and the credential pathway to graduation?
- What are you doing locally to help students earn credentials?
How can we restructure the high school years, or the delivery of career-technical education programming, to ensure that students have the time and opportunities to get the critical, work-based learning experiences needed to qualify for many credentials?
Dr. Emily Passias is director of the Office of Career-Technical Education at the Ohio Department of Education, where she focuses on state policies aimed at preparing students for college and careers.