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Group's Count of Credentials Doubles

September 25, 2019
 
 

An analysis of the U.S. education and workforce-training landscape has identified 738,428 unique credentials -- double the initial estimate of 334,114.

The report "Counting U.S. Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials" was published today by Credential Engine, a nonprofit group. The analysis is based on research conducted by the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness and the George Washington University Institute of Public Policy.

The count includes credit-bearing degrees and certificates, as well as non-credit-bearing offerings such as digital badges and apprenticeships. The initial estimate, published in April 2018, did not include noncredit postsecondary certificates, awards by institutions that are not eligible for federal aid, apprenticeships that are not registered with the U.S. Department of Labor or digital badges. Credential Engine is building a searchable Credential Registry through partnerships with state agencies, employers, universities and colleges.

“This new estimate gives us a much clearer picture of the vast credential landscape -- but it also suggests that we need far better tools and information to navigate the daunting number of credentials available today,” Scott Cheney, executive director of Credential Engine, said in a news release. “Critical information, such as costs and outcomes that reveal the relative value, must be more transparent in order to make good on the promise and potential of educational investments.”

Former U.S. secretary of education Arne Duncan and former Florida governor Jeb Bush wrote in the report’s foreword that they would like to see greater investment in national and state-level systems to help match consumers with appropriate credentials.

“What we still don’t know is whether we have enough -- or too many -- credentialing programs for a country of our size or if we have the right mix of programs to meet employer needs across the country,” Bush and Duncan wrote. “This report is the first step in answering those questions.”

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