Dr. Stephen Crawford

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GWIPP Research: Stephen Crawford

This page features research funded through GWIPP and performed by Stephen Crawford

Title: Improving Labor Markets through Voluntary Standards for Describing Credentials

Funding: Lumina Foundation

Start Date: August 2013

Category: Education Policy

Status: Current

Summary: The George Washington Institute of Public Policy at George Washington University has received a grant of $369,000 from Lumina Foundation to fund a project on standards for describing labor market credentials. The project will study how the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) could coordinate standards and conformity assessment systems to improve transparency and trust in the credentialing marketplace in the United States. It will address the full spectrum of credentials, including postsecondary degrees, certificates, industry and professional certifications, badges, and other documents that attest to what people know and/or are able to do.

The last decade has seen rapid growth in the number and variety of labor market credentials. Uncertainty about their quality and value and how they relate to each other is causing serious confusion in the labor market ─ driving up costs for employers, job seekers and public funders, and exacerbating skill shortages. These problems derive largely from the lack of public-private standards necessary to support transparency and trust in the credentialing marketplace. “Widely accepted standards would provide a common framework and language for describing key aspects of credentials, including competencies, assessments, scopes of application, relationships with other credentials, and market value,” notes Dr. Stephen Crawford, the project director and a Research Professor at GWIPP.

The project will bring together key stakeholders from business, education, and government to assess the standardization landscape, create a credentialing “roadmap” (including a compendium of information resources on credentialing standards), and develop a conceptual framework and reference model. The roadmap will identify what standards are available or under development, what gaps exist, and what activities are needed to advance the quality and transparency of the credentialing process in the U.S. The project will also explore whether and how the envisioned ANSI standards collaborative could establish the foundation for a more open and comprehensive public-private data infrastructure – one that provides semantic interoperability in ways that enable open data initiatives and promote an open applications marketplace.

A major feature of this project is GWIPP’s contractual partnership with ANSI. A non-profit organization, ANSI is the coordinator of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment systems in the United States. It facilitates the development of standards by accrediting standards-developing organizations. It also accredits conformity-assessment organizations to determine the fulfillment of standards requirements. ANSI already is very active in workforce credentialing, especially as an accreditor of certificate programs and personnel certification bodies. The project leadership includes Dr. Roy Swift, ANSI’s Senior Director for Personnel Credentialing & Accreditation, and Dr. Robert Sheets, Senior Director of Research at Business Innovation Services, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.