By David Laverty, Director of Certifications for Transformance Advisors
Credentials are everywhere in the competitive online world. Of course, we all recognize the major ones, such as CPA or PhD. Yet, there are hundreds of niche credentials including CSCM, CLM, and SSBB. These operational certifications can become confusing since some students may have four to six acronyms after their names. With the alphabet soup of letters, many questions come to mind:
- What skills were learned?
- What competencies does the holder possess?
- What steps occurred in earning the certification?
- Where will certification lead the holder?
Beyond the potential employee, who is the organization, which provides the training and awarded the certification? Hopefully, the educational process required rigor with substantial testing in place to verify knowledge. The organization needs to have a track record of contributing to industry advancement and not act as a certification mill focused solely on making money. There is nothing wrong with making money. It just needs to be earned.
According to Credential Engine’s research report, there are nearly one million credentials offered in the U.S. While important for holders to advance in their careers, understanding the credential landscape is not easy. With such a vast number of credentials, making evaluations becomes confusing, which contributes to a loss of interest for both employees and employers.
Transparency with credentials indicates more defined career paths and clarifies qualifications for employers seeking to hire good candidates with verified skills. This data transparency helps education and training providers, governmental policymakers, regulatory agencies, and employers, allocate resources to develop needed pathways. These pathways provide reliable and practical roads for career success and business development.
Credential registries map this process to ensure better efficiency and reduce the probability of getting lost. These registries also sort out the serious players from those who are cutting corners. At the end of the day, employees want to improve their careers and employees want candidates, who will make positive contributions to their organizations. Verifying credentials creates a win/win scenario to make the most of this often confusing environment.
“Successful professionals recognize the need to maintain their credentials. To stand still is to fall behind.”
– Mike Sheahan, President Emeritus, ISCEA International Standards Board
Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL) is a common language, which allows providers to organize, describe, and catalog credentials. CTDL is widely respected as the standard language to share information across credentials, skills, competencies, and objectives. By creating a common language to describe the information, CTDL enables comparability on a universal credential basis.
When credential and skills data are mapped to the CTDL, providers upload the information to the cloud-based, publicly accessible database for availability at any time. The registry holds specific information on a full range of credentials and skills in a user-friendly format. In this setting, viewers can explore competencies, learning outcomes, up-to-date market values, career pathways, and reference data on credential attainment and quality assurance at schools, professional associations, certification organizations, military, and much more.
The credential registry data is intended to have long-term relevance. Once the lifecycle ends, CTDL terms indicate the credential is no longer available. Thus, a credential may not be available, and/or the organization offering the credential shuts down their business. However, the historical data is still valid and remains listed in the registry. Data quality is important and data currency remains in place until a resource’s life cycle concludes. Automated processes ensure the overall data management maintains substantial quality.
With the credential registry, information can be obtained about a variety of credentials, which would be difficult to collect and maintain independently. The registry sources data from the organizations, who own and manage the credentials to keep the information accurate and up-to-date. Also, an archive of previously-published information is maintained so the data about older credentials can still be referenced.
With an approved account, customers share information about their own organization and the credentials they manage. This process will enable customer organizations and their credentials to show up in the systems of anyone else that uses the credential registry, which makes it easier to obtain and put the information to use. Even if the customer does not choose to participate directly in the registry, customer benefit can also occur from using CTDL to describe the organization’s credentials in their website metadata.
If customers just want to put CTDL metadata on their website and have it picked up by search engine crawlers, publishing guides offers a format API endpoint for all of the major classes, which can make it easier to map system data to CTDL. This API will not publish to the registry. Instead, it formats data in CTDL and returns it to the customer. Then, embed this data in a webpage with a JSON-LD script tag.
There is nothing wrong with publishing to the registry and putting the data on the page. This approach ensures maximum exposure and discoverability of information.
It takes all of us. Credential providers, employers, policymakers, and thought leaders all have to come together to share and use data in the registry for transparency to have the greatest impact. Together, we can make sure learners and workers have access to the information they need to make use of their opportunities and get ahead. Together, through credential transparency, we can illuminate paths to a better future.
With greater transparency:
- Learners and Workers can understand the availability, costs, time, and value of the varied credentials available. Transparency allows learners and workers to navigate the road ahead.
- Credential Providers can more clearly describe the credential quality and value, and how they meet the needs of individuals, businesses, and the community.
- Employers can discover and hire the best candidates, who have the skills and competencies needed for the jobs of today. At the same time, effectively plan for the needs of the future.
- Policymakers and Thought Leaders can better understand the high quality credentials available, support the economic needs of American businesses, and communicate the importance of transparent credentials to vast audiences.
Credentials are about far more than the myriad of letters after a person’s name on a resume. They are symbols of dedicated work, new skills and information, and the wisdom gained from in-depth learning. The symbols, which signify the earned credentials, help match companies with the best possible job candidates to perform the needed work. Instead of accepting a confusing landscape where participants often get lost in a do-it-yourself maze of scattered and unconnected information, go to the places that store and make information available in an efficient and accessible manner.
Stand up to the companies, which are focused myopically on money by churning out credentials for a fast buck. Insist on credential providers, who show a commitment to advancing industry knowledge by requiring credential holders to earn their badge through consistent effort, academic rigor, and a passion for skills advancement. Credentials are about more than money.
They are a symbol of mastery. The person who has taken the time, made the sacrifice, and dedicated themselves to excellence will benefit the vast number of people, who are recipients of their knowledge and skills. Instead of leaving this information to wander in a random environment, just know credential registries do the heavy lifting and make finding credential information a smooth and efficient process.
About David Laverty
David has worked to develop companies through lead generation, operational management, and business planning. With corporate positions at ADP and Nexus Greenhouse Systems, along with considerable consulting experience for small to mid-size companies with writing business plans and building websites, he brings a multi-faceted approach to business development. This effort has produced significant revenue expansion including the planning expertise to support the growth.
He has been an adjunct professor at Red Rocks Community College for 14 years where he has taught introduction to business, principles of marketing, management and writing a business plan. His students appreciate his passion for knowledge and providing real-world application to theoretical concepts.
Outside of work, he enjoys long bike rides on the Metro Denver bike trail system, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, and visiting Caribbean Islands via cruise ships.
See: LinkedIn profile.