By Christopher Butcher & Ali Neal, Principals, Heuristic Solutions
This article was originally published in the 2020 ASAE Technology Toolkit, a publication that showcases companies who understand the unique needs of associations and can provide and implement technology solutions designed to enhance mission-critical initiatives. For more information or to access the entire Tech Toolkit, please visit asaecenter.org/resources/associations-now.
In June 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 43 million people hold a license or certification. That study showed three salient points for associations: the number of credential holders has been growing over the past 50 years; the numbers are especially strong in rapidly changing fields; and employment rates are higher for those who hold a credential.
Associations who align themselves with credentialing trends promote a virtuous cycle of relevance: credentials require targeted education; targeted education facilitates credentialing. The easier it is to obtain the training necessary to pursue a credential, the more demand for the credential. The more credential seekers and holders, the more demand for training.
As representatives of professional and occupational communities, associations are uniquely positioned to participate in credentialing ecosystems in a number of roles:
- As educators, promote quality continuing education.
- As assessors, evaluate individual achievements.
- As integrators, bring employers and employees together.
As you contemplate your role in these processes, you quickly learn that traditional technologies like your AMS and LMS aren’t going to give you what you need.
Promote Quality Continuing Education
Quality education is more than holding yourself to high standards of instructional design. In a credentialing ecosystem, education includes:
- Learning content aligned to a credential’s content blueprint
- Curated third-party materials evaluated for quality and relevance
- A feedback loop to promote effective learning
- Centralized activity tracking for a one-stop-shop
- Automated attendance reporting to minimize manual effort
- Reporting to certification and licensure organizations to verify achievements
Provide Independent Assessment
Employers seek out credentials because they offer independent assessment. As an association, you can support this demand in several ways:
- Become the assessor by creating your own certification or assessment-based certificate program.
- Incorporate assessments into your educational content to validate learning.
- Offer “certification-readiness” feedback through more formative interactions between the learner and competency expectations.
Create Career Pathways
The ascendance of credentials reveals that the paths people take to find their careers are becoming increasingly complex. Traditional four-year colleges are becoming increasingly costly and distant from occupation needs. Associations are better-positioned to offer aspiring workers a playbook that leads them to develop their skills competency by competency. The right pathways will meet people where they are, show them what they need to accomplish to meet their goals, and connect them with the educational stepping stones.
New System Concept: The Credentialing Management System
The traditional LMS and AMS are not designed to support the full potential of a credentialing ecosystem. A newer class of technologies is available to meet this need: the credentialing management system. These systems are designed to handle the complex interactions among standards-setters, content developers, assessors, employers, and regulatory boards. Are you ready to build a virtuous cycle that builds a qualified workforce? Start by ensuring that your technologies are aligned with your goals.