By the end of the year, it is estimated that almost 2 million new jobs will have been created in 2017. While that is certainly good news for the economy, we need strategies in place to ensure that this economic growth benefits all working families. Our country should be a land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard to realize their dreams, regardless of their background.
Getting people into available, good-paying jobs remains a challenge. It is more confusing than ever to understand what training, education, and experience in the form of apprenticeships, certificates, college degrees, or licenses are valued in today’s dynamic and changing economy. It is critical for job seekers and employers to understand what credentials are necessary to get a good job and which will be the most helpful in advancing their career.
In fact, there has been no single registry to house the estimated 250,000 credentials available in the U.S. today. There has been no search engine for human resource departments, job seekers, or curriculum planners to easily sort, assess, update, and better understand the skills and competencies needed to fill the 5.5 million open jobs that are reported to be available today.
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If job seekers can’t decipher which credentials are needed for a job and employers are unable to identify the specific education and job training programs necessary for filling positions at their companies, countless workers miss out on an opportunity to secure a good job—many of which pay at least $50,000 year—and businesses are far less productive.
As leaders in the business and labor communities, we have a responsibility to come together and shine a spotlight on this challenge and the strategies we can pursue. If we are successful, the outcome will be a stronger and better workforce and an opportunity for more people to get ahead.
The good news is that a promising solution is on the horizon. It’s a database called Credential Engine, which like websites that use algorithms to compare flights and the cost of hotel rooms, allows job seekers, employers, and educators to easily search, aggregate, and compare employment credentials.
This open-source tool will make it easier for industries such as health care, which is expected to grow 18% by 2026, adding about 2.3 million jobs in the process, to easily lay out the education and training credentials required to train, recruit, and hire staff. People searching for jobs or educational programs can visit the site and compare options.
This one-stop-shop for credentials can help us better understand which jobs are in greatest demand and what skills are necessary to secure them. For example, employers and educators in Chicago have invested in data to determine what types of skills are necessary to secure good-paying roles in industries that are critical to the regional economy (health care, advanced manufacturing and transportation, distribution, and logistics).
These jobs, which range from supply change management to health care IT, often require specialized certifications. In return, community partners are working closely with business and educators to provide the training needed to prepare people with these credentials and fill thousands of positions.
We want to bring this collaborative model to more communities and industries around the country.
The AFL-CIO, JPMorgan Chase JPM , Business Roundtable, Microsoft MSFT , and the Lumina Foundation have been supporting Credential Engine’s pilot in Indiana and around the country for the past year and, to date, more than 170 schools, business organizations, training providers, and government organizations have contributed to the Credential Registry, which now includes nearly 1,500 credentials.
The Registry details which employers accept certain credentials, what type of education and training is needed to receive the credential, and where job seekers can go to get them.
Going forward, member companies of Business Roundtable, which is made up of CEOs of leading U.S. companies, will publish the credentials they issue and work within their specific industries to publish industry-wide credentials. Labor leaders will also partner with education and training organizations to share credentials.
We encourage more businesses, labor organizations, education institutions, and training agencies to join this cause and work together to contribute to the development of the Credential Registry.
Helping every American share in our economic growth requires close collaboration and partnership between business and labor. This goal is within reach if we can utilize technology to build the tools and provide resources that offer a clear pathway for job seekers to secure the skills that today’s growing industries need.
By cutting through the confusion and working together, we can pioneer better ways to make our economy work for everyone.
Richard Trumka is the president of the AFL-CIO. Jamie Dimon is the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase and chairman of Business Roundtable.