We encourage you to use this Action Guide and provide feedback. We also encourage you to make a copy to remix and reuse for your LER purposes.
Diverse stakeholders, including policy makers, state and federal agencies, employers, community-based organizations, and education providers, are searching for ways to help learners and workers find the most efficient and equitable pathways to secure the right skills and credentials that lead to good jobs and careers. Credential and skill transparency helps stakeholders address a major source of labor market friction: unequal access to information about quality education and career opportunities for learners and workers, as well as information gaps in employer processes that often produce poor matches between available positions and candidates. With improved access to credential, skill, and job information, individuals have increased agency to find, understand, and compare opportunities to advance along their learning and career pathways, and employers can make more precise selections based on skills and competencies rather than degrees alone. Learning and Employment Records (LERs) are emerging as a powerful tool for accessing, linking, and verifying credential and skill information. Investments in LER technologies are aligned with broader state, regional, national, and global investments in information systems, data transparency, digital literacy, and learner/worker sovereignty. LERs enable individuals to represent all types of credentials, skills, and experience, which can improve labor markets and access to opportunities for all stakeholders.
There are over 1 million unique credentials offered in the U.S. With so many credentials to choose from, people get lost and lose out on opportunity. Learners and workers too often don’t know which credentials and skills lead to their desired learning and career outcomes. With limited information on skills, employers are unable to understand what skills workers actually bring to a job and tend to over-rely on degrees to select candidates. Educators are increasingly under pressure to ensure that their programs help students succeed in the workplace, which can be challenging when they don’t have reliable access to information from employers about the skills needed. This complexity is compounded by the fact that credentials are issued to individuals without transparent information about what skills those credentials represent. Data transparency that addresses these issues is an essential foundation for interoperable, meaningful, human- and machine-actionable LERs.
State leaders are in a unique position to require that LERs include transparent, interoperable information about credentials, skills, and experience and make these digital records foundational in their education and workforce strategies. Not only do states have responsibility for education and workforce training, but they have also invested in data systems for decision making in education and labor market improvements. State leaders can build a culture that encourages state government, employers, and education and training providers to work in a coordinated and aligned fashion to improve data transparency in learning and career systems, including LERs issued to individuals.
New LER technologies enable credential, employment, and skill data to be aggregated, analyzed, and made actionable for career success. LERs empower people with control over records of their own achievements, offering transformative opportunities to connect learning with careers and to improve the outcomes of investments in education and workforce development.
The big picture goal is to ensure that policy and actions create ecosystems where LERs are widely accessible, understood, and trusted, inclusive of all aspects of an individual’s education, training, military, experiential learning, and work achievements, and securely shareable to connect people with opportunities. This Action Guide provides steps to get there, to enable more efficient career navigation and provide more equitable access to actionable information through LERs.
This Action Guide describes the phases and steps that stakeholders can follow to develop and sustain trusted LER ecosystems. These steps need to be iterative and cyclical, as stakeholders make progress, learn, and improve LER capabilities on an ongoing basis; a waterfall one-and-done approach will not meet the evolving needs in this arena. Portions of this Guide are based on Credential Engine’s widely and successfully used State Roadmap and Action Guide for Transparency (see the History and Context section below). Specific LER supporting resources are included in this Guide, and there are related resources on the Credential Engine state partnerships site. While many of these resources target state-specific actions, this Guide is intended to be broadly applicable for LER ecosystems. We encourage you to adapt these materials to connect the why and how to for LERs that meet the needs of your stakeholders.
We thank the many experts who have contributed to this Guide and provided resources that are rapidly evolving to support LER ecosystems. Together we can achieve the goal of empowering people with LERs that unlock equitable opportunities.