New America Hosts Launch of Workforce Credentials Coalition

Washington, DC – Today, New America is hosting the inaugural meeting of the Workforce Credentials Coalition. Led by the California Community Colleges (CCCCO) and the North Carolina Community Colleges, the Coalition is a nationwide group of over twenty states seeking to develop joint data standards and data sharing agreements with industry and professional certifying bodies. Common data field definition is necessary so education and industry can together provide a skilled workforce.

“As a system, we strive to demonstrate transparency in data that began with our California Student Success Scorecard and Salary Surfer,” explains Van Ton-Quinlivan, CCCCO Vice Chancellor of Workforce and Economic Development. “This work is taking place while our system is concurrently rolling out the LaunchBoard, a unified framework of data focusing on student outcomes and skills building for a more competitive workforce.”

“As exciting opportunities increase for community colleges to offer programs leading to industry recognized credentials, we are also faced with challenges as many funders require colleges to collect and report on credential attainment data,” says Dr. R. Scott Ralls, NC Community College System President. “This data is difficult, if not impossible, to collect. Our colleges need a single repository for accessing all third party credential data. This is one of the goals of the Coalition, to move toward a secure, accessible national credential data warehouse.”

The Coalition is tackling an increasingly important blind spot in educational data systems. As non-degree credentials like industry certifications become more important to job seekers and employers, it is essential that educational institutions establish data-sharing relationships with certifying bodies to ensure their programs are well aligned with industry and professional standards. Currently, there is relatively little data sharing, limiting the ability of educational institutions to know if students are leaving their programs well prepared to meet industry-specified competencies. In the absence of an effective feedback loop between certifying bodies and post-secondary educational systems, students have no way of knowing if a college course or program will help them pass a certifying exam, community college systems lack the data they need to improve their programs, and certifying bodies have limited data that can be shared with education providers about where their offerings could be better aligned with required skills. The Coalition is dedicated to developing shared strategies to collect and exchange data to the benefit of students, employers, and institutions. “Tracking industry certifications is important for students across the country. We are hoping with this coalition to tell the story on how validated credentials are beneficial to our students entering the workforce,” says Renah Wolzinger, Field Director for Data Tools, CCCCO.

Credential Data Pioneers, Forging New Partnerships to Measure Certifications and Licenses, a newly-issued report by the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, highlights the opportunities that data-sharing between private certifying bodies and community colleges offers to improve programs and student outcomes. The report features a case study about the Workforce Credentials Coalition.

“NC Community College System just embarked upon a new strategic planning process that is focusing on workforce and economic development. Part of the planning process involves hearing directly from our colleges concerning their challenges in providing innovative workforce training programs. The challenge of obtaining third-party credential data needed to evaluate the effectiveness of workforce training programs keeps being mentioned as one of the key challenges.” Dr. Matt Meyer, Associate Vice President, STEM Innovations, NC Community College System “It’s very exciting to see so many states come together around a common agenda on workforce credentials and how better data can help them improve their programs,” states Mary Alice McCarthy, Senior Policy Analyst of the New America Foundation

For questions about the Workforce Credentials Coalition, please contact:

California Community Colleges contact: Renah Wolzinger, rwolzinger@gwc.cccd.edu

North Carolina Community Colleges contact: Dr. Matthew Meyer, meyerm@nccommunitycolleges.edu, or 919-807-7155

New America Foundation contact: Mary Alice McCarthy, MaryAlice.McCarthy@newamerica.org

About California Community Colleges The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation. It is composed of 72 districts and 112 colleges serving 2.3 million students per year. Community colleges supply workforce training, basic skills courses in English and math, and prepare students for transfer to four year colleges and universities. The Chancellor’s Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. The Mission of the Economic and Workforce Development Division is to invest in California’s economic growth and global competitiveness through industry specific education, training and services that contribute to a highly skilled and productive workforce.

About NC Community Colleges With 58 colleges and more than 100 campuses serving nearly 830,000 students, the North Carolina Community College System is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the United States and is internationally recognized for its programs supporting economic and workforce development. Learn more at www.nccommunitycolleges.edu.

About New America New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.