CAD, CAM, & BIM
Jun 5 2020
CareerTech defines a credential as a “qualification of a specific set of competencies related to a particular industry or occupation.” Industry-recognized credentials (IRCs) go one step further because they must be
Gone are the days when a high school graduate could land a well-paying job with only a high school diploma. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, about two-thirds of all new jobs require some education and training beyond high school.
But don’t hit the panic button!
IRCs were designed to give high school students the skills, experience, and recognition they need for 21st-century workplaces. For high school graduates looking to land jobs in engineering or architectural design, this means being qualified for the following job titles:
Two of the software powerhouses in engineering and architectural design are SOLIDWORKS and Autodesk. Because of the widespread use in industry, many states have identified SOLIDWORKS certifications and Autodesk certifications as approved IRCs. Here are some of the most popular certifications students can earn.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is all about career readiness and giving students valuable industry skills throughout their K-12 education. IRCs fit into this framework well because they ensure students have the knowledge and skills required across industries.
Signed into law Dec. 2015, ESSA was created to ensure U.S. students receive “a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.” The ESSA provides grants and funding opportunities to support innovative educational programs to help students succeed.
The ESSA gives states more power to determine how schools should account for student achievement. Therefore, each state has to create its own education plan within the framework provided by the federal government. This can be a double-edged sword: While the flexibility the ESSA provides states can be nice, it can also be difficult for instructors to keep track of standards since no two states are the same.
Following many of the recommendations put forth by leading Career and Technical Education (CTE) groups, ESSA places a strong emphasis on this type of education.
This increased focus on CTE shows exactly why IRCs are quickly gaining popularity in schools: they are a great way to improve career readiness and technical education in a meaningful way. Here are five ways CTE opportunities are embedded in ESSA:
Throughout ESSA, there are multiple opportunities for states to really dig into the career skills the local workforce needs. Schools are encouraged to partner with local industries in order to reduce skill gaps and ensure students are ready for in-demand careers in their community and beyond.
Many states mention IRCs by name and prioritize students earning them. Other states don’t necessarily call out IRCs, but school districts and instructors still leverage them in the pursuit of providing a “well-rounded” education.
If your state specifically mentions IRCs, it will likely be in ESSA Title I, which outlines the state’s accountability measures.
Title I – Accountability Measure
The easiest way to embed IRCs into ESSA planning is by using them as a method to track accountability. Specifically, ESSA explains that states are responsible for creating their own measures to indicate “school quality or student success.” The thought process behind this is that educators and students respond to clear-cut goals and metrics and having transparent data makes it easier to identify underperformance.
Currently, 35 states have included a career-focused metric in their accountability rating systems, with 11 states specifically including the attainment of IRCs. The most commonly used accountability measures for career readiness are
Earning IRCs can be a great way to ensure schools are meeting career-related or CTE goals under ESSA. However, many states are slower to adopt the IRC accountability model.
Even if your state doesn’t specifically call IRCs out in Title I, there are plenty of ways IRCs help reach other career-readiness and CTE goals. For example, IRCs ensure students are earning a “well-rounded education” and connecting with in-demand industries.
Many states have gone a step further in supporting IRCs by providing financial incentives to schools and teachers for each student who earns an approved credential. While this can be included in a state’s ESSA plan, most states that offer IRC incentives have wrapped them up into other CTE-related legislation.
Florida, Kansas, and Louisiana have led other states in terms of their IRC incentive policies. CareerTech’s “Credentials of Value” report outlines the top four common trends that these states share in regard to their IRC incentive programs that have made them so successful:
Meet your state’s ESSA or CTE credentialing goals while preparing students for careers in engineering, architectural, and manufacturing design. Download our e-guide to learn more.
About the Author
SolidProfessor content writer and self-appointed World’s Greatest Dog Mom