Study shows prevalence of credentials.

April 09, 2013

A pilot national population survey just released by the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) has found that almost 40 percent of U.S. adults currently hold some type of work-related, non-degree credential—a certification, license, or a less-than-bachelor’s certificate. Yet, there is little programmatic data at the state or federal level to document what those specific credentials are, how they align with jobs in the labor market, or how important public investments in workforce training or postsecondary education were to their achievement.

Statement by Andy Van Kleunen, Executive Director of National Skills Coalition, on the release of the NCES’s Adult Training and Education Survey (ATES) Pilot Study:

“We have a tremendous amount of data about the accumulation and distribution of bachelor degrees in this country. But this pilot survey indicates that there are more working adults in the U.S. who have studied or tested for some other type of work-related credential, and yet we have made comparatively little effort to document those outcomes. That is, our public education data and performance systems are not capturing how investments in credential attainment, as compared to degree attainment, are paying off in employment, earnings and career advancement for students and workers.

This survey is an important step to identify this workforce and education data gap. We hope the Obama Administration continues to refine such inquiries so they might become a permanent part of future federal household surveys. And we hope the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education will start to assess how to better capture work-related credential outcomes in their assessments of federally funded workforce and higher education programs.”

National Skills Coalition is one of several national organizations collaborating on the launch of a new Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) calling for the development of more inclusive, aligned and market-relevant education and workforce data systems to meet the demands of a 21st century economy. Other WDQC National Partners include the Association for Career and Technical Education, Center for Law and Social Policy, Data Quality Campaign, National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education, and the New America Foundation.

More information about the WDQC is available at

The WDQC is seeking a director to lead the campaign. More information is available on our website.