Attaining postsecondary and occupational credentials is critical for youth to be successful in the 21st century economy. Good-paying jobs in high demand industries generally require some form of postsecondary education or training and the earnings bump that accompanies postsecondary credentials is well established. A recent study based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that by 2018, more than two-thirds of the 47 million projected job openings will require some level of postsecondary education or training, including industry certification . For employers, credentials demonstrate and document skills, enhancing their ability to fill skilled positions, identify talent pipelines, and compete. For youth, credentials can improve their labor market experience leading to higher earnings, greater mobility, and enhanced job security.
As defined by the Employment and Training Administration, a credential is awarded in recognition of an individual’s attainment of measurable technical or occupational skills necessary to obtain employment or advance within an occupation. These technical or occupational skills are generally based on standards developed or endorsed by employers. Certificates awarded by workforce investment boards (WIBs) and work readiness certificates are not included in this definition, however developing skills, such as work readiness skills, is an important step in preparing youth to be successful in the workforce. To learn about strategies that state and local workforce agencies and their strategic partners can adopt to increase the rate of credential attainment among workforce program participants and improve the quality of those credentials, see Training and Employment Guidance Letter 15-10: Increasing Credential, Degree, and Certificate Attainment by Participants of the Public Workforce.