What are credentials and certifications?

Have you heard the word “credentials” or “certifications” lately? These words are definitely in play in the world of students, employers, and educators.

What are they, really?

Think of them as a way for a student to learn a skill, procedure, etc. and then demonstrate their proficiency by passing a test to earn the credential. Credentials are often required for certain jobs, and they tend to cluster by industry.

See this list just published by the state of North Carolina as a reference. To read more about NC’s efforts to help students and employers leverage credentials, read this article.

The Ohio Department of Education maintains a list with supporting information as well. It can be found here.

Helping teens understand

Educators, employers, and politicians want our students to understand the value in alternative postsecondary pathways to careers (others than college). We must all keep in mind that we must frame this conversation in ways that will appeal to the adolescent brain.

The message can’t simply be this credential or alternate route will pay well. Students don’t want just good work. They want good lives. (Don’t we all?!) Work life balance. Doing meaningful and relevant work. Beginning adult life with no/less debt. It must be part of the message.

We can all also keep in mind that our kids will enter a working world that will require continuous re-education — they will hop into and out of education during their whole professional lives in part because of the impact of technology leaps and shifts. They’ll acquire new credentials and certifications to show that they learned the skill they were taught.

Credentials and certifications are hot button topics now and will continue to be. Because the education landscape is ever-changing, colleges will need to adapt as well to meet the needs of future workers.

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