A selection of non-degree badges

More states are recognizing the importance of non-degree credentials

A quick look at how states are changing the way they college and measure data around credentials

Although no state has comprehensive data about all types of non-degree credentials, including certificates, licenses, and industry certifications, states are improving their data-collection practices around non-degree credential attainment, according to Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign.

States are most likely to have data about public for-credit certificate programs, registered apprenticeship certificates, and licenses.

Thirty-six states report having most or all individual-level data on for-credit certificates from public two-year institutions in their state. Twenty-seven states report having most or all data about registered apprenticeship certificates, and 22 states report having most or all licensing data.

The challenges of data collection

States continue to struggle with collecting data on non-registered apprenticeship certificates and industry certifications, and the majority also struggle to incorporate non-degree credentials data into their state longitudinal data systems, except for for-credit certificates.

The majority of states say they can break down data about their non-degree credential attainment by key demographics, including race/ethnicity or age, likely by collecting individual-level data about students, including demographic information. Thirty-eight states can disaggregate by gender, 31 by highest educational attainment, and 27 by veteran status.

When it comes to counting non-degree credentials toward their attainment goals, many states are hesitant to count all types of non-degree credentials, and instead they choose to only count the credentials they determine to have value in the labor market or are otherwise high quality.

A changing perception of non-degree credentials

To that end, 30 states have or are developing a list of “credentials of value” to deliver financial aid, workforce development, or other programs.

In order to do this, states say they are currently, or have plans to:

  • Use labor market information to better understand in-demand industries and occupations as well as skills gaps
  • Engage employers to learn more about what they look for when hiring
  • Examine employment and wage outcomes of credential completers

Specifically, 26 states say they currently or will identify programs of study associated with high-demand industries or occupations. Twenty-four states report that they currently or will determine where there are skills gaps. Twenty-three states say they currently or will analyze the employment rates and/or average earnings of those with various credentials. Finally, 21 states report that they currently or will get regular input from employers about the skills and credentials they are looking for when hiring.

Laura Ascione