What's a Non-Degree Credential?

Last month, we hosted a lively and informative webinar titled "The Need for Non-Degree Credentials." Panelists from UPCEA and the Lumina Foundation shared compelling data that suggests the need for non-degree credentials during the hiring process is necessary and must be done sooner rather than later. 

Dr. Amber Garrison Duncan, Strategy Director for the Lumina Foundation, tackles some of the audiences most pressing questions that we didn't have time to address during the live broadcast. 


1) Do companies perceive job applicants with non-degree credentials to have more chances for hiring?
The answer is, “it depends.” Some industries have leveraged non-degree credentials for decades in their workforce and employers have a strong awareness about the skills and competencies that the credential represents. But we also know that some industries and employers are not as familiar with non-degree credentials broadly or how to use them in their hiring practices. This is why we encourage states, workforce agencies and higher education institutions to work closely with employers to make them aware of credentials and determine if they would actually use it in hiring.

2) There's a lot of talk about credentials, but doesn't hands-on experience also matter? And how to get that? Also, there was a reference to a transparent credential, what makes it transparent?
The first thing to recognize is that talking about credentials doesn’t necessarily mean that hands-on learning isn’t a part of the learning process or assessment of skills. But I agree, having learners demonstrate their competency in applied settings is ideal and takes intentional planning. The benefit of digital credentials is that there is a way to link to evidence of what a learner did to demonstrate what they know and can do to earn the credential. That can go a long way to help make it transparent to the employer what stands behind the credentials. And, there’s that word again- transparent. At Lumina we have supported an array of activities designed to make credentials transparent, meaning that the credential provider makes clear the knowledge and skills behind a credential. Again, digital credentials make that possible for individuals to have a transparent record of their own learning. We’ve also supported the work of Credential Engine to create a common language that can be used to describe credentials and publish the information in an open format on the web so anyone can compare.

3) Employers...how do I know the "quality" credential I get counts as much at the next employer as it did for my current one? How do we build trust when even industry associations don't necessarily represent individual employers?
This is a really great question. If a credential is of high quality, then it will lead to further education and employment. And, as you point out industry associations do not necessarily represent every individual employer. This is why close partnership with employers, credentialing entities, and workforce agencies are a must and these organizations should constantly examine labor market data and employer demand signals to ensure credentials remain relevant and have the intended return on investment for the individual.

If you're interested in learning more about the need for non-degree credentials during the hiring process, join us for our webinar, "Credentials to Careers: How to Get Qualified Candidates.

By Patricia Diaz