Did you know most hiring managers don’t care about what college you went to or what major you studied? That’s because they’re focused on uncovering what knowledge and skills you’ve obtained through school, certification exams, work, volunteering, and beyond.
When Gallup asked business leaders to rank the level of importance four distinct factors have on hiring, the majority reported their top two factors were the level of knowledge the individual has in their field (84%) and the applied skills they have obtained (79%). Gallup states, “Getting a job and achieving long-term success in one’s career may increasingly depend on demonstrating real value to employers through experience and targeted learning — and increasingly less on degrees, even if they are from prestigious universities.”
That’s where standards-based certification exams come in.
To put it simply, using knowledge standards as the framework to educate and prepare the workforce of the future makes a transparent connection for industry to understand the value of the knowledge and skills obtained through a certification program.
What are knowledge standards?
Knowledge standards serve as the learning goals for what students should know and be able to do at each level. For Education (CTE) courses, these standards help set performance benchmarks, while also creating a common language to engage both students and employers in the education system.
When used at the beginning of a course, knowledge standards provide students with a clear understanding of what will be expected of them. Standards are essentially insights for students to see how what they’re learning in the classroom correlates to industry outcomes, increasing their confidence in the tangible job skills they need to obtain.
For employers, knowledge standards provide:
- A direct link between what students learn in school and the needs of their specific industry.
- A way to influence what is taught in school, deepening the value of the students’ knowledge gained.
- A guide to get more involved with classroom learning and serve as an “industry guest” to create connections to prospective young employees.
- A clearer path for quality internship experiences for both the student and the business.
Why standards-based certification exams?
While the benefits of certifications for students are vast, there’s one major benefit for industry: Certifications provide tangible proof of an individual’s knowledge and skills.
Standards-based certification exams create a mutually beneficial relationship between industry and education in that educators are kept informed of the latest developments in industry standards and can tailor their curriculums to meet emerging needs.
“The more educated your people are, the better service you can give your customers. It all goes hand-in-hand. If we start training them early, the service is just going to get better and better. Any knowledge prior to coming to work for Burt Brothers all helps reduce the amount of training that we’ve got to do. If we have quality applicants come in the door that already know how to change tires, rotate tires, change oil, then we can just teach them the Burt Brothers way to do that.”
– Jason Burt, Burt Brothers
Think back to what hiring managers care about most. Understandably, an applicant who holds an industry-recognized credential becomes a more valuable candidate because their knowledge and skills are validated.
Through standards-based certification exams, industry is better able to identify and hire qualified candidates, develop a pipeline of qualified candidates for the future and influence that pipeline to consider their available careers.
How do standards-based certification exams work?
In schools, standards-based certification exams can be used as stackable end-of-course and end-of-program capstone certifications. Educators use the standards to build their curriculum, whether in sequential order or optimized to meet their students’ needs, for the length of the course. Truly, they want to position their students for success and celebrate that success with an industry-recognized credential.
“My kids were extremely motivated by the possibility of earning a certificate. The kids that passed couldn’t wait to show their parents the certificate they earned and update their resumes. A majority of the kids that didn’t pass wanted study guides and a chance to retake as soon as possible.”
– Jacob Hutchison, Ed.D, California
With clearly defined expected outcomes in a course, students can confidently pursue their career pathway and are encouraged to actively engage in classroom activities.
But how does industry come into play?
Well, industry values education outcomes more when they understand and contribute to the education inputs (a.k.a. knowledge standards). To be successful, it must be an ongoing cycle:
- Standards are created with input from industry,
- Standards are taught to students in schools,
- Students’ knowledge and skills are validated by certifications,
- Students’ certified outcomes are recognized by industry.
- Rinse, and repeat.
Precision Exams by YouScience is the only provider with industry-recognized career certification exams available in all 16 National Career Clusters & 21st Century Skills. A team of subject-matter and industry experts closely monitor any rapidly advancing areas to stay abreast of changes, ensuring the standards remain up to date and relevant to today’s jobs. This continuous process results in new and updated career certification exams released every year.
“We’re focused on balancing the needs of our customers with the ever-changing needs of industry. Our network of experts helps us keep a finger on the pulse of industry, so we can ensure students are equipped with the knowledge and skills that will propel them into a bright future.”
– Jody Smith, YouScience Director of Exam Development
How can industry get involved in education?
Industry engagement in education is essential in developing and preparing tomorrow’s workforce today. Here are five simple ways to get involved through YouScience:
- Indicate which aptitudes, pathways, and certifications you value using our Employer Connections
- Review and contribute to the standards being taught in school, or even support the development of exams.
- Spread the word about your involvement to students and your community.
- Engage with students by offering internship opportunities, preferred interview status depending on credentials, and part- or full-time jobs for your desired knowledge and skills.
- Invest resources towards supporting education outcomes to support your talent pipeline.
When education and industry work together, everyone wins.
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