To help strengthen the quality, value, and effectiveness of manufacturing credentials in the United States Workcred, an American National Standards Institute affiliate, released a report funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership examining how credentials are currently used in hiring and retention practices, and how credentialing can be improved to advance the manufacturing industry. It includes recommendations for multiple stakeholders including manufacturers, credentialing organizations, educators, accreditors, and policymakers.
The report, “Examining the Quality, Market Value, and Effectiveness of Manufacturing Credentials in the United States,” revealed that credentials have uneven use in the manufacturing industry and are not routinely required or used as a major factor in hiring or promotion decisions.
Many manufacturers do not know what credentials are available or how they are relevant to their workplace. Often, they do not view credentials as the most relevant tools to identify new skilled personnel or as incentives to improve the quality of their existing workforce. Notably, manufacturers believed that credentials could serve as a critical resource if they were better understood and made more in line with skills needed in their facilities.
Based on findings drawn from survey and focus group participants representing a wide range of manufacturing sectors, facility sizes, geographic regions, and job roles, the report provides insights on how credentials are used and valued by industry at a time when US manufacturers report a skills mismatch. With nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs likely to be needed over the next decade, 2 million positions are expected to go unfilled, a major US workforce challenge, according to a Deloitte report.
Credentials, increasingly recognized as valuable solutions to the skills mismatch, can vary from certificates and certifications to licenses, degrees, badges, and microcredentials. For the US manufacturing industry, increasing the quality of credentials can help increase the effectiveness, efficiency, and performance of the labor market—and improve the quality of the US workforce.
The report provides recommendations for credentialing and workforce stakeholders in the following areas:
- Improving understanding of the content, use, and value of credentials;
- Expanding the use of quality standards for credentials;
- Strengthening relationships between employers, education and training providers, and credentialing organizations;
- Adding an employability skills component to existing and new credentials;
- Creating credentials that focus on performance and address new roles; and
- Increasing the number of apprentices and expanding apprenticeships to more occupations.
Workcred conducted the research with a financial assistance award from NIST, which is within the US Department of Commerce. Since 1988, NIST MEP has worked to strengthen US manufacturing by improving the competitiveness of US companies. Through its national network, the program makes manufacturing technologies, processes, and services more accessible to small and medium-sized manufacturers.
Formed in 2014, Workcred’s mission is to strengthen workforce quality by improving the credentialing system, ensuring its ongoing relevance, and preparing employers, workers, educators, and governments to use it effectively. Its vision is a labor market that relies on the relevance, quality, and value of workforce credentials for opportunities, growth, and development.