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Emphasizing Competencies a Key to Indiana’s Participation in Credential Engine

By: Ken Sauer, Senior Associate Commissioner and Chief Academic Officer, Indiana Commission for Higher Education

To ensure the economic stability and prosperity of the state, Indiana must pay close attention to the workforce needs of Indiana employers and to the desire of so many of its residents to acquire the knowledge and skills that lead to satisfying, good-paying jobs, both today and throughout one’s career. A key step toward addressing these needs is to provide a tool that can help students and workers navigate a seemingly impenetrable maze of information to find pathways toward credentials that signify mastery of in-demand skillsets. To meet these needs, Credential Engine’s Credential Registry and its Credential Transparency Descriptor Language (CTDL) provides the foundation for important tools for both employers and students to obtain the information they need to make strategic decisions about credential and career pathways. For Indiana, perhaps the most important information the Credential Registry and CTDL can reveal details the competencies embedded within a credential.

Competencies have been a growing focus of attention for the colleges and universities in Indiana’s system of higher education. Our state’s statewide transfer general education core and its transfer single articulation pathways (2+2s) are constructed around an agreed-upon set of competencies. Individual institutions, such as Indiana University, have made significant national contributions to articulating and assessing learning outcomes.

The attention on competencies has not been restricted to college credentials. Army University is systematically articulating competencies in all of its training programs and the U.S. Navy recently embraced the CTDL as a way to describe competencies needed for personnel in its product management life cycle program. Years ago, specialized and regional accrediting groups began the shift from emphasizing learning outcomes or competencies instead of inputs and began asking: are credential providers actually able to equip those who earn their credentials with the knowledge and skillsets they claim their credentials represent?

Likewise, on the employer side, more attention is being paid to better articulating the competencies that employers seek in new hires, which is the focus of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s T3 Innovation Network project. The Markle Foundation’s Skillful initiative and pilot projects launched by Viridis also emphasize helping employers to better articulate competencies sought in job postings.

The Credential Registry, representing a core data base of unparalleled scope and depth that can be readily navigated, provides an opportunity for the user to have access to an incredible amount of information. With an ability to highlight competencies and competency frameworks, the Registry provides a means for promoting fluidity among credentials: if someone has mastered key competencies, as signified in a credential, those competencies should translate into advanced standing in another credential that includes those competencies as a subset of, or foundation for, its own credential.

Over the past year, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education has been working with postsecondary institutions to make information about their credentials more readily available to students, job-seekers, and employers. We have had a particular initial focus on publishing all of our state’s healthcare credentials. Publishing to the Registry brings together information which will help institutions align their offerings to employers’ needs and helps demonstrate career and education pathways, benefiting the state’s students and job-seekers. We’re excited to utilize the Credential Registry and the CTDL to help us better articulate the competencies and connections between credentials and ensure that we’re preparing Hoosiers for the workforce of tomorrow.

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This blog is the first in a series where Credential Engine will highlight state partners and their commitments to a transparent credential marketplace. Please join us for our next blog where Indiana will explore the partnerships that have helped them achieve key milestones thus far, as well as lessons learned and future directions.