Angie White: Industry Based Credentials: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

As defined on the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s (LWC) website, an Industry-Based Credential or Certification (IBC) is an independent third party credential that is industry-accepted and results from a process whereby an individual’s knowledge and/or skill in a particular area is verified against a set of pre-determined standards. It has been suggested that IBCs are an individual’s passport into the new economy. Employers, as members of a particular industry, participate in setting the standards and creating criteria for certificate attainment.

Many national industry associations have developed IBCs that are for skills commonly needed by companies in their industries. One example is the American Welding Society’s Structural Welding certificate (Basic or Advanced). Companies hiring welders often list this as a preference or requirement for qualification.  Another example is CompTIA, a global tech association that has developed a long list of IT certifications widely valued by companies hiring IT workers.  

It is not universal that employers use IBCs in their hiring process for jobs requiring specific skills, and this can put them at a disadvantage for two reasons.  First, not seeking an IBC to verify a candidate’s skill level could mean money spent on on-boarding and training that is wasted because the individual is not qualified for the job. These wasted dollars quickly add up and become a drag on profitability, not to mention the negative morale impact on work teams that are disrupted as new team members cycle through unsuccessfully and must be replaced.

Second, and most relevant to the present moment in workforce development, state and federal funding dedicated to training unemployed and underemployed residents will be laser focused on identifying high demand occupations with an identifiable IBC or set of IBCs tied to them. Why? So that Louisiana high school career and technical education (CTE) programs and community/technical colleges can focus their resources on developing training programs around the industry-approved skills the IBCs verify. If employers in Louisiana who are struggling to find skilled workers are not communicating to the workforce development professionals or community/technical colleges in their area the IBCs they value, they are missing an extraordinary opportunity to guide the development of their future workforce.

The North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) sits on the Education and Workforce Task Force of the Governor’s Resilient Louisiana Commission.  Its role is to harness the power of the education and workforce development systems to maximize the success of the phased reopening from the COVID-19 imposed shutdown, reemploy our people, and build long-term resilience. There has been much discussion in our weekly meetings about verifying the current and future skill needs of Louisiana employers so that we can get unemployed residents into relevant training of a short-term nature and place them in the rapidly increasing job openings posted in the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s HIRE website. The basis for developing the appropriate skills training is through the identification of relevant IBCs.

NLEP and other regional economic development organizations around the state will be placing renewed focus on collaborating with our local and state chamber, economic/workforce development and education/training partners to work with employers in North Louisiana to identify the skills and corresponding IBCs that are most important to them as they bring their businesses back to life, or as they pivot to new types of work or work processes.  If you are unsure which IBCs are the right ones for your business needs, we can help you through that process. If your business wants to be part of this conversation, we want to hear from you.

To learn more about IBCs and to see the Louisiana Industry Based Certifications State Focus List, , visit http://www.laworks.net/PublicRelations/WIC_IndustryBasedCertification.asp

Angie White, CEcD | Executive Vice President and Workforce Initiatives Director at the North Louisiana Economic Partnership.