Credentials Matter

It is an indisputable fact that credentials are a vital part of our educational system. With 70 percent of jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s or graduate degree, credentials are a key element of the workforce development system in the U.S. and pave the way for lucrative careers, job satisfaction, and high skills. Restoring the Dignity of Work: Transforming the U.S. Workforce Development System into a World Leader points out that for every ten jobs currently available in the U.S., one requires a master’s degree or higher; two require a bachelor’s degree or higher; and seven require a credential, certificate, or associate degree. 

A common assumption is that a four-year degree is the only route to success. Yet, the occupational demand for higher education degrees does not match economy needs—the National Center for Education Statistics projected that through 2024, jobs needing a bachelor’s degree will be 50 percent oversupplied and careers requiring a master’s degree will be 90 percent oversupplied. However, the construction industry is facing an estimated skilled labor shortage of 1 million through 2023, as reported by the Construction Labor Market Analyzer. In fact, the Associated General Contractors of America reports that over 80 percent of construction firms nationwide are having a hard time filling positions. With the lack of skilled craft professionals available, industry is taking on a portion of the burden of education and training. Alternatively, declining community college enrollments offer a distinct opportunity for industry and education to collaborate.

Collaborating gives industry representatives and educators the opportunity to provide credentials needed in the workforce and create a direct pipeline from the classroom to careers. One such successful partnership is Sundt Construction and Central Arizona College’s (CAC) Education at the Speed of Industry program. Sundt Construction was struggling to find skilled craft professionals while CAC’s construction discipline courses were decreasing in enrollment. Sundt and CAC were able to identify four craft pathways specifically designed to provide stackable certifications equaling 30 college credit hours, as well as NCCER Level 1 and 2 credentials for specific crafts. By utilizing NCCER’s curricula, Sundt and CAC were able to deliver pre- and post-employment training that also benefited students by providing them with industry recognized NCCER credentials. In addition, the partnership allowed for quick program development and release since NCCER programs are competency-based with measurable objectives at the modular level. In fact, the program was put into place in just three months. CAC and Sundt continue to be leaders in collaboration and have won both industry and education awards for their successful program.

NCCER is an Innovations 2020 sponsor and exhibitor.

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