Survey examines credentials, work-based learning

Rachel Zinn
September 15, 2017

New results from a 2016 federal survey show that 27 percent of workers hold a non-degree credential and 21 participated in work-based learning, and most of them believe this experience has value in the labor market.

About 80 percent of adults with a non-degree credential (i.e. postsecondary certificate, license, or certification) reported that their most important non-degree credential was very useful for getting a job. For adults who completed a work experience program (such as an internship, apprenticeship, or clerkship), 64 percent found them to be very useful for getting a job.

The survey results bolster WDQC’s continuing push for better data about varied pathways to gain skills. Despite their prevalence and importance in the labor market, WDQC works with federal and state agencies just starting to generate detailed information about non-degree credentials and work-based learning.

Almost two-thirds of the survey respondents with non-degree credentials also had an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree. Work-based learning was also more common for people with higher levels of education.

This report adds to a growing body of federal survey data about the value of non-degree credentials. Earlier studies found that these credentials are associated with an earnings bump, particularly for workers with some college or an associate’s degree.

Getting more federal and state data about credentials and work-based learning can help identify strategies for helping individuals from different backgrounds get on paths to jobs with good wages, and assist state and federal leaders in policy development.