Career pathways are messy – and are no longer the carefully documented corporate tracks of the past. Research shows Generations Y and Z will have far more careers than past generations. So how will the workers reinvent themselves to stay relevant? A new report from Burning Glass entitled "The Narrow Ladder" may have an answer as they use job posting data to examine the market value of industry certifications. 

Here are some fast facts and interesting observations from the report:  

  • Certifications which outline career ladders and give employers and job seekers guidance about the skills necessary to advance are the exception.  
  • Industry certifications signal a validated proficiency of job skills and help new labor market entrants break into a field.  
  • Career fields that value certifications carry a significant salary premium especially as a career accelerator for workers seeking upward mobility.  
  • Fields like IT Networking are completely shaped by "stackable" certifications which outline the career paths from beginner to expert.  
  • Other fields are ripe for certification pathways when they validate hard to find skills and struggle to find qualified talent. 

Industry certifications provide an economical alternative pathway for workforce readiness and career advancement with a promise to reduce labor skill gaps. In the Burning Glass research, there is however a call for a more clear, transparent information about the market value of certifications across the board.  

As a parent or educator, would your support your student's pursuit of industry certifications as an alternative postsecondary pathway?  

As an employer, would you hire someone who has industry certifications but not a degree? Do you have a model for career advancement that involves credentialing via certifications?  

Let's keep this conversation going.  

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