News, Press Releases

Three Midwest States Join Initiative to Make Career Pathways Clearer for All

Iowa, North Dakota, and Wisconsin join a growing number of states to map their states’ credential, skill, and competency data to the Credential Registry to make information on credentials leading to careers more transparent and consistent.

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact and Credential Engine announced this week that Iowa, North Dakota, and Wisconsin signed agreements to participate in work to deliver current, consistent, accessible, and comprehensive information on all types of credentials leading to job opportunities. With the commitment from Iowa, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, there are now 26 state and regional partners across the country who are actively working toward credential transparency.   

“As more Midwestern states join this collective work, the region will benefit from open and transparent credential data that will make it easier for state leaders, policymakers, educators, employers, and learners to make impactful decisions,” says Jenny Parks, Vice President of Policy and Research at MHEC. “MHEC is thrilled that our region is leading the way toward this goal.” 

The work to map Midwest states’ data to the Credential Registry is a collaboration between MHEC and Credential Engine, a non-profit whose mission is to map the credential landscape with clear and consistent information through a common language for credentials. The work between MHEC and Credential Engine is supported by a grant from the Ascendium Foundation.

“We are excited for our work together in helping the Midwest create a more transparent credential landscape,” says Emilie Rafal, Director of Programs at Credential Engine. “We hope that our state partnerships continue to exemplify the benefits that having clear, open, and accessible information about credentials can have for everyone.”

MHEC and Credential Engine will help the midwestern states map their credentials, competencies, quality indicators, career pathways, and outcomes to a consistent national language that provides a common understanding and “rules of the road” for how credentials are described, including information about issuing organizations, associated competencies and skills, quality assurance, assessments, credentialing organizations, pathways to careers, cost, and more. These data will be made available through the Credential Registry accessible to anyone anytime and will be consistent across participating states. The goal of this work is to make it easier to access and use comparable information about credentials so that people can find the most cost-effective way to learn the right skills and find the best jobs.

  • In Iowa, the Department of Education’s Community College and Workforce Preparation Division will carry the work forward. Credential transparency will help Iowa inventory all credentials in the state so information can be better understood. In addition, the state will publish to the Credential Registry all credentials and their associated skills/competencies available in the Iowa Department of Education’s Community College and Workforce Preparation Division’s jurisdiction.
  • In North Dakota, the North Dakota University System and the North Dakota Statewide Longitudinal Data System will be key partners leading this work in the state. The state will use transparent credential information to support various state goals, such as building a comprehensive learner record, better articulating transfer, and describing pathways (starting with cybersecurity).
  • In Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin System will lead this work by inventorying and publishing their credential, skill, and competency data into the Credential Registry. Credential transparency will help foster collaboration across agencies and sectors to ensure this work is integrated with, complements, and strengthens quality, attainment, equity, access, affordability, and other existing data efforts across the state to ensure continuity and impact. 

Credential transparency is an approach to making essential information about credentials and competencies public, easily accessible, and actionable so that credentials can be better understood and pursued based on what it takes to earn them, what they represent, and the jobs they can lead to. MHEC and Credential Engine seek to reduce barriers to information, ensuring that all individuals have equitable access to the full range of learning, advancement, and meaningful career opportunities in the region.

To learn more about Midwest partnerships or how to get involved with MHEC, please contact Sara Appel, Associate Director for Policy Initiatives at saraa@mhec.org. 

To learn more about Credential Engine’s national partnership work or credential transparency, please contact Emilie Rafal, erafal@credentialengine.org.

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About MHEC:
As an interstate compact, MHEC brings together Midwestern states to develop and support best practices, collaborative efforts, and cost-sharing opportunities. Through these efforts it works to ensure strong, equitable postsecondary educational opportunities and outcomes for all. Member states of MHEC are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Learn more at https://www.mhec.org.

About Credential Engine:
Credential Engine is a non-profit whose mission is to map the credential landscape with clear and consistent information, fueling the creation of resources that empower people to find the pathways that are best for them. Credential Engine has partnerships with 26 states and regions across the U.S., as well as 2 regional consortia of states. Learn more at https://credentialengine.org.