ACTE November/December2011 : Page 31

By NATASHA TELGER AND JOHN FOSTER C redentials, credentialing systems and credentialing agencies have taken on a level of significance that has propelled the visibility of the topic into the mainstream media. This focus on creden-tials is a result of a larger issue; employers want workers with skills, both technical and soft skills, and workers need to demon-strate they have these skills. But what does it all mean? What credentials are getting people jobs and meeting employer needs? Credentials can include information like courses completed, experiences gained, assessments passed, and sometimes these pieces of information culminate in diplo-mas or certifications received by passing nationally validated examinations. For workers, obtaining credentials provides a competitive edge and validates possession of specific technical knowledge and skills. Through the use of an objec-tive assessment tied to a recognized set of national standards, a credential can certify that an individual is ready for specialized employment. How does one know which assessments to select to provide a credential that is meaningful to the employer? The decision can be difficult since there are many op -tions. Some argue that some credentialing agencies are profit-motivated, with less of a focus on test security, objectivity and na-tional standards. Still, others would argue that the standards can be proprietary or focused on a single company’s operations. Keep those views in mind when making a choice, but here are a few other things to consider: • Is the credentialing agency a leading national provider of high-quality occupational competency assessment products? • Do they have existing assessments for your audience? • Do they have experience working with, or endorsements from, employers and educational institutions? • Are the assessments based on national standards? • Do industry associations endorse or recognize specific assessments? • Do they provide services that include test development, written and perfor-mance assessments that can be deliv-ered in an online format, scoring services, and specialized reporting? • What is the assessment review/ update schedule? • Do they offer an assessment format that is accessible to individuals with a disability? • How many assessments are required to cover the material? • Is there curriculum to help prepare individuals with the required skills? • Does the cost of the assessment fit within a budget? Is there any one assessment that pro-vides a college-and career-ready indi-vidual for employers? In Illinois, Illinois workNet early adopters would say no. This is why: National and state stan-dards, employers and various task forces bringing together education, government and employers play a role in identifying acceptable standards for work. A common theme is that a college-and career-ready workforce needs to have a combination of academic skills, industry-wide techni-cal skills, and employability (soft) skills (see Figure 1). To meet the workforce needs, all Local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIAs) in Illinois use a grassroots partnership approach that recognizes the local experts in each primary skill area. Figure 1: College-and Career-ready Skills Emp demi c loy abi A ca Industry-wide Technical Through efforts of a recently formed Statewide Employability Assessment working group, some are using local endorsement from businesses as one type of credential. What is different about the approach is it uses a set of service, train-ing and assessments that together help guarantee a qualified workforce. Workers may have earned valuable credentials, but the point is that employers endorse the local Illinois workNet program based on overall out-comes, not any one credential. For example, local experts for each of these skill areas are available statewide. The local experts train and assess individ-uals in local school districts, community colleges, technical schools, universities and other training institutions. Some of those locations use national assess-ments in technical areas and programs of study. One example of a provider that offers national technical assessments is NOCTI. They provide technical certifi -cation exams for numerous credentialing partners. Some of these credentialing partners include: Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, National Association of Homebuilders, American Culinary Federation, Plumbing Heating and Cool-ing Coalition, and the North American N ovember/december 2011 Techniques lit y 31

Previous Page  Next Page

Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here