A new list of workforce credentials valued by industry and endorsed by a high-level state working group has been published on North Carolina’s career information portal, NCcareers.org. The centralized list will help both students and employees identify the higher priority credentials that employers use to screen workers for in-demand, high-wage careers.
The list was reviewed and endorsed by the N.C. Workforce Credentials Advisory Council, a working group that includes representatives from the Office of the Governor, the N.C. Community College System, N.C. Department of Public Instruction, N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Association of Workforce Development Boards, and myFutureNC. Employers and business groups also participate on the council.
Earning a degree from either a four-year university or a community college provides a solid credential to someone entering today’s competitive job market. However, companies also value and reward job seekers who hold so-called “non-degree” credentials, issued by a wide variety of industry or trade standards organizations which often require specialized technical skills. Due to the sheer volume of organizations issuing non-degree credentials, workers can find it difficult to identify the best option for their situation.
Identifying priority non-degree credentials accomplishes several important goals, including:
- Helping policymakers incentivize credentials that align with business needs and spur economic growth;
- Connecting students and adult learners with in-demand credentials that produce competitive and family-sustaining wages; and
- Providing an opportunity for businesses to weigh in on the workforce skills that matter most for their industry.
With many jobs now requiring certification beyond a high school diploma, there is an increased need to inform North Carolinians about non-degree credentials that can lead employees to sustainable, long-term careers. State education, business, and policy leaders have set the goal that by 2030, two million North Carolinians between the ages of 25 and 44 will hold either a post-secondary degree or a high-quality credential.
"We want to train workers for jobs that will help put more money in their pockets and knowing which credentials are valued by today’s employers gives people a competitive advantage,” said Governor Roy Cooper.
“As the Community College System continues to build partnerships with companies to fuel the state’s job engine, the collaboration of this Council’s members will allow us to work efficiently to adapt this list of credentials to meet workforce needs,” said Thomas Stith, president, N.C. Community College System. “This credentials list is a great resource for students and adult learners to use as they chart their next steps. We look forward to growing this list to support companies as they strengthen North Carolina’s economy.”
“Economic mobility rests on a state's ability to educate its workforce,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt. “This list of credentials provides an important starting place both in and outside of North Carolina’s classroom, as it allows us to identify, inform and expose students to the skills needed to support their growth and launch them into a successful future be it college, career, or military.”
The list of priority non-degree credentials was drawn from a series of industry working groups and surveys, grouped into categories such as information technology, health sciences, and manufacturing among several others. More than 130 credentials are included in the first edition of the list, which will be updated annually.
“When we talk to company CEOs about locating or expanding their business in North Carolina, the first questions they ask concern our ability to provide a skilled workforce,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “It’s very clear that companies are expecting more from our workers, and this new list of valued credentials will help people land better paying jobs and keep North Carolina competitive in the years to come.”
“We know that the highest priority credentials change over time to meet the needs of our state’s growing economy,” said Dr. Stephanie Deese, Executive Director, N.C. Association of Workforce Development Boards (NCAWDB). “This credentials list allows for our workforce to stay abreast of the skills most needed in a 21st century economy and can help inform both students and adult learners while they chart their next steps. We look forward to growing this list over time and working with the employers to ensure their needs are heard.”
“The state’s educational attainment goal is to have 2 million North Carolinians ages 25-44 to hold a high-quality credential or college degree by the year 2030,” said Cecilia Holden, President and CEO of myFutureNC. “While increasing education levels of our citizens is critical, it is equally important that the credentials and degrees earned are aligned with employer needs and lead to high-growth or high-demand jobs that pay a living wage.”
The N.C. Workforce Credentials Advisory Council will take input from businesses on an annual basis to refine the existing list. The first application period for businesses to provide new input opens this month. In addition, the Credentials Council will begin gathering information from employers in sectors not-yet analyzed, such as energy and agriculture.
The list can be found online at nccareers.org/credentials
N.C. Community College System
- Sharon Gladwell – gladwells@NCCommunityColleges.edu
N.C. Department of Public Instruction
- Blair Rhoades – firstname.lastname@example.org
N.C. Department of Commerce
- David Rhoades – email@example.com
N.C. Association of Workforce Development Boards
- Stephanie Deese, Ed.D, CWDP – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jessica Swencki – email@example.com