- New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (Lead)
Leaders in New Jersey are overhauling many of their state data systems in order to improve internal workflows and ensure the best possible tools and services get into the hands of employers and training opportunity seekers. As part of this transition, Credential Engine’s common language will be used to describe all Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) credential data in New Jersey. This will give more people critical access to the information they need to make decisions as they navigate an economic landscape that has experienced rapid and unexpected changes due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Efforts are also underway to explore expansion of this effort to other postsecondary programs not currently on the ETPL, including additional community college continuing education programs as well as credit-bearing programs.
Credential Engine’s partnership with New Jersey was formed because leaders at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) recognized that using linked open data would be critically important to meeting statewide goals, including:
Historically, credential data has been siloed. Credential Engine collaborates with states like New Jersey to find innovative ways to break those silos down using a common language, linked open data, and the open-source Credential Registry.
States are required by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to maintain a list of providers approved to offer training to individuals who are eligible to receive WIOA funds. This is known as the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL). New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development maintains the state’s ETPL along with the Consumer Report Card (CRC). Currently, applications and renewal requests for inclusion on the ETPL are paper-based, and the digital search for finding and evaluating training providers and programs is not fully operational. Additionally, the CRC was not designed with user experience in mind—making it difficult for people to find, use, and understand. The current systems will be replaced with a public-facing, interactive, and mobile-friendly website.
Agency leaders are working to improve the ETPL and CRC because these challenges hinder learners and job-seekers from finding the information they need to make informed decisions about education and training opportunities—a key reason why they are working to fully integrate the ETPL and CRC with the Credential Registry. The integration will involve mapping data from the ETPL to the Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL), Credential Engine’s common language for describing credentials, and publishing that data to the Registry via API. The information about programs and credentials offered by private career schools and correspondence schools that wish to provide training in the state will also be published to the Credential Registry. In the meantime, the bulk upload method is being used to test the mapping and publishing for certain credentials. This new data infrastructure and improved workflows will greatly improve the state’s ability to collect and report program outcomes—not just for compliance reasons, but to ensure New Jerseyans have access to the information they need to make better informed decisions. Additionally, agency leaders used the National Skills Coalition and other quality assurance frameworks to create a framework for postsecondary credentials that reflects statewide priorities. It contains 10 indicators that fit into the following five dimensions: demand alignment; educational outcomes; employment & wage outcomes; financial impact; and equity. NSC’s framework has been mapped to the CTDL, which allows states to more easily highlight credentials of value and compare their results through the Registry.
In 2019, the NJDOL received a Data for the American Dream grant to build a “smart disclosure” tool using the open data from the Registry about training programs in the state. The tool, called the Training Explorer, leverages innovative technology and is designed with and for low-income individuals, customers of state human services programs, and other populations that have an urgent need for a resource that will match them with the right education and training opportunities.
Leaders in New Jersey are working to break down data silos and modernize processes across all state agencies. Leveraging the Credential Registry as the single source of credential and competency information combined with using the CTDL to describe all credential data will be key. Using a common description language allows for easier linkages to other important data sources and can act as the foundation for future initiatives. In particular, the NJDOL plans to collaborate with both the 2 and 4-year systems to publish additional data to the Registry through the ETPL integration. Additionally, the department has identified its next use case: they will utilize the data published to the Registry to support the development of navigable career pathways frameworks for in-demand industries—allowing them to show which credentials and competencies match with jobs within those pathways. This information will also align with labor market intelligence to show demand for jobs and industries. Moving forward, leaders across New Jersey will continue to ensure that the Registry and CTDL remain critical parts of the state’s information infrastructure.