Solutions to Build a 21st Century Connected Credentialing System

As automation, AI, and other technological advances continue to disrupt jobs, more Americans will need to upgrade their skills throughout their lives to stay competitive. Right now, however, the postsecondary credentialing system is fragmented. It doesn’t acknowledge or connect the learning that happens through different sources of education–from school to work to the military. And the variety of credentialing options makes it difficult for workers to know which programs will help them reach their career goals.

In a previous report [], Third Way attributed these problems to a lack of a 21st century credentialing infrastructure people can use to store, share, and display their learning experiences over time and a lack of a common way to describe and understand the skills it represents.

This report makes five policy recommendations state and federal policymakers should take to address these gaps. In doing so, policymakers can help create a connected credentialing system that truly meets the needs of workers, employers, and the economy.

Create a 21st Century Credentialing Infrastructure

Solution 1: Develop a set of connected credentialing principles and a new credentialing innovation badge.

Solution 2: Establish a credentialing innovation fund.

Solution 3: Make next-generation learning records available to everyone.

Ensure Credential Transparency

Solution 1: Make it easier to compare credentials earned through job training programs.

Solution 2: Incentivize training providers to identify the skills they teach and make this information accessible.

For more, see