New report expands on the value credentials have in the job market

By Katie Spiker, September 15, 2017

On September 13th, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released, “Adult Training and Education: Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016.” The report details the value credentials such as certificates, licenses and certifications have in the job market, with data supporting the importance of expanding pathways to middle-skill careers, like access to Pell grants for short-term programs and work-based learning.

Nearly fifty three percent of all jobs are middle skill jobs – those that require these certificates, licenses and certifications but not a four-year degree – and yet only forty three percent of all workers are trained at that level. The NCES report offers insight into the importance of supporting access to these non-degree postsecondary certificates for workers to develop the middle-skills businesses need.

The report is based on surveys of adults ages 16-65, as part of the 2016 National Household Education Surveys Program, and this section of the survey was intended to evaluate the prevalence and value of certificates, licenses and certifications in today’s workforce. Results show that twenty seven percent of workers hold these non-degree credentials and twenty one percent have participated in work-based learning.

Responses to the survey indicated the value recipients place on their credentials. More than eighty percent felt they were useful in getting a job, keeping a job and remaining marketable in their field. This finding is consistent with NSC’s support of the Jumpstarting Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Kaine (D-VA) and Portman (R-OH) which would expand access to Pell grants for participants in short-term, industry certified job training programs – programs that would lead to the credentials respondents valued. The NCES report is further support for the importance of these short-term programs to workers for the development of the skills businesses need.

The survey found similar results for participants in training programs that provided on-the-job work experience – about 2/3 of respondents found this work experience improved their ability to get a job and their work skills. NSC has developed several policy proposals to expand access to work-based learning and apprenticeship, including through support for industry and sector partnerships that convene and work with local partners necessary to start and run successful work-based learning programs. Senators Kaine and Portman have also introduced the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act, which would provide grants to industry and sector partnerships to expand access to work-based learning opportunities in infrastructure industries.

NSC urges Congress to support the JOBS Act and BUILDS Act to expand access to the kinds of credentials, certificates and licenses vital to workers’ success in middle-skill jobs.