Demand For Certifications Increasing During Pandemic

Survey data showing that demand for certifications is increasing due to the pandemic is consistent with what is seen with other credentials. This data strongly suggests that individuals and employers see certifications as a pathway to new and/or continued employment. The survey also showed that certification bodies are working to develop micro-certifications and specializations in certifications. This may reflect an emerging trend toward micro-credentialing that has emerged in postsecondary education.

The pandemic has resulted in significant displacement of workers from their jobs. Recent surveys from Strada have shown that approximately half of individuals believe that pursing more education or training will result in a good job. Adults who are considering enrolling in education are more likely than before (66% vs. 50%) to prefer non-degree pathways, with many expressing a consistent preference for non-degree and skills training options.

How Has the Pandemic Impacted Certifications?

However, there has been little data presented about how individuals view credentials such as certifications, which are NOT training or education programs, but rather assess an individual’s competencies as they relate to specific job roles. Workcred recently surveyed a group of certification bodies to ask them about how the pandemic has impacted the demand for certifications.

Response that most certification bodies have seen an increased demand for certifications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifty-six percent of the surveyed certification bodies agreed that demand for their certifications has gone up. When asked for reasons for the increase, the top three reasons were: COVID-19 pandemic, demand from individuals, and demand from employers. A small number of certification bodies also indicated that this increase was also supported by their shift to online proctored exams.

Demand for New Certifications

Seventy percent of surveyed certification bodies also indicated that they were preparing to launch new certifications over the coming year, also supporting the view that demand for certifications is increasing.

Response showing that most certification bodies will widen offerings in 3-5 years (including micro-credentials).

The top responses for the focus of these new certifications were: specialized certifications (with an existing occupation), micro-certifications (assessing for a set of specialized competencies), and certifications in new areas or occupations.

Data on certification bodies preparing new certifications that are online, more specialized, etc.

Very broadly, this data suggests that many of the same trends being seen at postsecondary education institutions also exist at certification bodies. The COVID-19 pandemic is universally impacting postsecondary credential providers as individuals seek new training and credentials to buoy their current employment, re-enter the workforce, or transition to new employment.

Individuals and Employers Recognize the Role of Certifications

This data also suggests that individuals and employers recognize the important role certifications can play in their professional journeys. For example, certifications can support individuals to enter new career pathways by providing evidence that an individual is prepared with the skills needed to perform capably in a new role. Or that certifications support individuals to progress by providing evidence of continuous learning without the expense and time needed to earn a certificate or degree. Particularly in industries which are continuously evolving due to changing technology, such as health care, information technology, or supply chain management, certifications provide an affordable and highly flexible pathway gaining new and valued credentials.

As will be detailed in a follow-on blog post, certification bodies are well-positioned to support these individuals as part of their credentialing journey. 

This is the second post in a three-part series. You can find the first post in this series, Certification Bodies are Well-Positioned to Link Data and Deepen Understanding of ROI of Certifications, here. Read the next entry, Education & Training Support to Prepare for Certifications, here.

Methods: Workcred surveyed a group of 30 certification bodies across multiple industry sectors over a period of two weeks. Workcred received 25 responses to the survey, 24 of which were complete. The survey was delivered and replies collected using SurveyMonkey.

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