ATP Creates New Division/
Focuses on
Workforce Skills Credentialing


For the first time in nearly two decades the ATP Board of Directors, this fall, approved a new Practice Area Division, which will be dedicated to assessments for workforce skills credentialing.  The new Division, which held an organizational meeting December 10-11, in Washington D.C., will be ATP's fifth Practice Area Division.

"Significantly for ATP, this area (workforce skills credentialing) is not similar to traditional professional certification/licensure programs either in terms of who is being assessed or how these assessments are managed or overseen...these workforce related assessment activities used in credentialing programs deserve separate attention within ATP," explained 2015 ATP Board Member Dan Rinn of NTT, who first brought the new division initiative to the attention of the ATP Board in 2013.

Rinn presented an overview of the workforce skills credentialing landscape pointing out that, "A significant gap within US/global businesses exists between, on the one hand, the need to identify persons with job critical skills, and programs for developing the skills necessary for current and future manufacturing and trades skills."  That gap, said Rinn, largely focuses on how to measure competency in both current and future work skills.

Rinn pointed out that as labor market credentials have grown significantly in both number and variety over the past ten years, uncertainty about the quality and value of these credentials and how they relate to each other has caused serious confusion in the labor market. This has resulted in worsening skill shortages and rising costs for employers, job seekers, and public funders alike. "These issues," he said,  "are largely derived from the lack of needed public-private standards that could support transparency and trust in the credentialing marketplace."

Rinn noted that, "The various credentialing mechanisms used in workplace skills assessment are generally less formal, and more diverse, than single organizational-sponsored certification programs. individual seeks out his or her own mixture of credentials in order to appeal to available (or perceived) job opportunities; a person accumulates a set of his or her credentials (so-called electronic “backpacks”), and controls access to this information.  Accordingly, there is a great need for authenticating both individual student information and the validity of issued credentials.

Wayne Camara, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Research for ACT, agreed and added, "that today’s broad array of credential issuers should focus on the value of assessing individuals who are being trained or educated towards any number of credentials (and that) enhancing the value, and the security, of these credentials is important."

Charlie Wonderlic, CEO of Wonderlic, Inc. wrote in a letter of support for the new division: "We strongly agree with the viewpoint that...(credentialing)...assessments should be developed in accordance with the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (1999) and we expect that ATP can further these goals through the new Division.

ATP CEO Dr. William G. Harris pointed to the recently released ATP/CCSSO Operational Best Practices which addresses state large-scale elementary/secondary education assessment programs, as a model which can be reviewed, and potentially adapted, in the creation of best practices for credentialing programs as well.  "Using such best practices is the best way for credentialing programs to adopt quality assurance methods, including clearly defined scoring procedures and systems, reliable scoring technologies, ongoing training of personnel and constant oversight of the test scoring process," Harris stated.  

The December meeting focused on organizing the new Division into working groups who will decide which areas of the complex workforce skills credentialing assessment arena can best be addressed within ATP. For more information about this new Division contact: [email protected]