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ExcelinEd Releases First-Of-Its-Kind Industry Credential Research

Study shows no state has credentials “highly aligned” with real-world demand; more than 20 states don’t collect data


Not a single state has its career education credentials “highly aligned” with the job market, while more than 20 of the states don’t collect the data needed to tell whether they are aligned with what employers want, according to new research by ExcelinEd and Burning Glass Technologies.

Today ExcelinEd released Credentials Matter, an ongoing research partnership with Burning Glass Technologies designed to shed light on the landscape of industry credential data collection and alignment across the country. The project illustrates the credentials available in high school and highlights the outcomes of credential attainment to inform key policy decisions about which career pathways and associated credentials lead to middle and high wage employment opportunities and continued advancement for students.

Credentials Matter combines ExcelinEd’s policy expertise in college and career pathways with Burning Glass’ cutting-edge labor market analytics to provide new insights into the alignment between the credentials student earn and the demand for those credentials in the workforce.

Key findings include:

  • Only about half of all states (28) collect quantitative data on the attainment of credentials.
  • Of the 24 states where data was made available, no state is highly aligned in terms of supply of credentials earned by high school students and demand for those credentials in the job market.
  • States do not have consistent definitions for what constitutes an industry-recognized credential—even though high school students earn hundreds of thousands of credentials each year.
  • Many credentials are not explicitly requested in employer job listings, despite the fact that the credentials may be required or desired for the position.


Stock photo of man using magnifying glass to look at motherboard. Text reads “States are on the right path toward preparing each and every high school student for success after graduation, but Credentials Matter shows there’s work to be done to ensure that the credentials students earn are aligned with today’s labor market. This report provides clarity for policymakers, the business community and families on the steps that must be taken to keep our states and country competitive in the 21st century.” Governor Jeb Bush, Founder and Chairman, ExcelinEd

Stock photo of teenage girl working in a manufacturing facility. Text reads “Every career education course and credential offered in our state systems should be high quality and prepare young people for success in college or a mid-skill/mid-wage or higher job. Credentials Matter can inform and inspire efforts to build the kind of career education system that our students deserve.” Patricia Levesque, CEO, ExcelinEd

Stock photo of three teenagers, two boys and one girl, all in blue shirts working on a machine. Text reads “The ultimate goal of any career credential, whether a certification, certificate, or license, is to give students an edge in the job market by demonstrating the skills they’ve acquired. Every day employers signal what they’re looking for in their job postings. Ensuring that the supply of credentials is aligned with the demand by employers is fundamental to giving graduates a real chance in their careers.” Matthew Sigelman, CEO, Burning Glass Technologies

Stock photo of tween boy and male teacher wearing protective eye goggles and working with a blowtorch welding metal. Text reads “High school graduation rates have been rising steadily, but college and career readiness has not kept pace. Better alignment between students’ high school experiences and labor market demands could bridge that gap, which is why we supported ExcelinEd to develop Credentials Matter. We’re delighted to see that investment come to fruition with new tools and resources will help educators, employers, and policymakers understand workforce expectations and design programs to ensure that students graduate prepared to meet them.” Ambika Kapur, Education Program Officer, Carnegie Corporation of New York

Credentials Matter is the most comprehensive examination of industry credential attainment in high school CTE programs. The findings and recommendations represent a critical first step to helping a range of stakeholders understand the current landscape of credentials earned and evaluate whether those credentials have currency in the job market. At the high school level, credentials can include assessments, certifications and government-issued licenses.

For more information on this research and to view interactive maps and data tables, visit The maps and charts are also available to download in the media kit.

Credentials Matter was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.