It is crucial, now more than ever, that students are preparing for the workforce along with the prospect of a college education simultaneously. The ever-developing and changing job market united with a flexible and adaptive education system is closing the significant skills gap between employers and qualified workers. There is concern that students are not entering the workforce with an adequate skills set that prepares them for success. According to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 65% of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training. This skills gap between education and the workforce has caused a shift toward the importance of credentialing and additional training that is more comprehensive in order to meet the needs of employers and the U.S. work industry as a whole.
Career and technical education (CTE) programs are at the front of the initiative to create students that are career ready. CTE programs provide a basis for students to acquire technical and academic skills that are necessary for successful and long-term employment. Classroom education with hands-on training prepares students for the real work they will be completing in their career fields or as they work through and continue their educations at the collegiate level. Applying concepts and skills in lab, workshop, or actual work settings provides tangible learning experiences for students to build their knowledge base. As a result, students are better able to align their educations, and subsequently their skills, with their preferred career pathways. Successful CTE programs are complemented by the opportunity for students to obtain industry recognized credentials that are beneficial for students as they build resumes and portfolios for the future. Credentials provide proof of knowledge and verify a student’s capability to perform a particular trade, skill, or occupation. Credentialing opportunities bring value to CTE programs because they validate the education and training these programs provide as well as give students incentive for further achievement.
For entry-level employment, credentials are a good predictor of success and achievement for students who are seeking their first time jobs, apprenticeships or internships. Employers are able to easily identify what degree of competence potential employees possess. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for workers ages 16 to 24 rests at nearly 12%, and with nearly 18.1 million people entering the workforce under the age of 24, students require a way to show they have the desired technical and employability skills in a competitive job market. Industry recognized credentials and other certifications are a good way for students to make themselves more marketable to employers who are looking to invest in long-term, qualified workers. Leaving high school with more than a high school diploma is now a valuable means toward success upon entering a career field or continuing on to a two-year or four-year college or university.
Specific industry recognized credentials can give students better understanding of associated career pathways and college programs while other credentials provide general training essential to all 16 Career Clusters and beyond. Industry recognized credentials like ones offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) play a critical role in preparing students for the hazards and risks associated with various career fields and pathways. Through a partnership with OSHA, the CareerSafe Online program is committed to providing workplace safety training for students prior to their first jobs. The safety curriculum aligns with all 16 Career Clusters and can be easily implemented into any CTE program. It gives students an advantage moving forward toward post-secondary schooling or employment opportunities. With completion of CareerSafe OSHA 10-Hour safety training, students receive an industry recognized credential verifying that they have received workplace safety training. Students that have completed the CareerSafe program have experienced increased economic flexibility and employment opportunities over their peers that do not hold credentials. Feedback from educators across the country proves that industry recognized credentialing, like OSHA credentialing, makes a difference in the employment opportunities and wages of their students. Many CTE educators reveal that their students have been guaranteed jobs immediately upon their high school graduation and therefore have the ability to establish careers or have an opportunity to pay for further education without creating a large amount of student debt.
Credentialing opportunities can and should be easily accessible because of their added value to students as they complete their high school educations. The use of credentials will increase the likelihood of skilled, competent, and knowledgeable students entering the workforce. With career readiness as an integral part of education, students will be confident in their abilities to be successful.
If you would like to offer your students credentialing opportunities with CareerSafe or learn more about implementing a safety curriculum in your classroom, please visit, www.careersafeonline.com.
Foster, C. John & Sandra G. Pritz (2006). "The Certification Advantage." Techniques. January, 14-20.
Hyslop, Alisha (2008). "CTE's Role in Workforce Readiness Credentialing." Techniques. September, 40-43.
Molnar, Michele (2014). "Career and Technical Education Gains Ground in Many States." Education Week. April.
Muller, D. Robert & Alexandra Beatty. "Work Readiness Certification and Industry Credentials: What do State High School Policy Makers Need To Know?" Measures That Matter, 1-16.