- Training certificates, course completion certificates, industry or professional certifications and other types of "alternative credentials" can help employers further their hiring diversity, equity and inclusion goals as well as bolster career development, the Society for Human Resource Management said in a report published last month.
- SHRM's report included research it said was sponsored by a grant from Walmart made to the SHRM Foundation, its charitable arm. A survey of 1,129 U.S. SHRM members found that 90% said they believed that workers who held alternative credentials brought value to the workplace, while 59% said alternative credentials could uncover untapped talent.
- The organization found several barriers to application of alternative credentials in hiring, however. Professionals surveyed ranked other factors, such as experience, educational background and work history, above credentials in terms of their importance in making hiring decisions. Respondents also cited varied quality between different credentials, uncertainty about evaluating credentials and a lack of clarity about which skills certain credentials signify.
The report identified some long-standing concerns held by employers regarding credentials. Proponents have touted their potential to promote business growth and fill critical talent gaps. Businesses that provide credentials have also publicized the success their graduates have had in securing high-paying careers, particularly in fields like software engineering.
Yet others have characterized the credentialing space as one that lacks common standards, not to mention the difficulty employers may have in confirming what skills a given credential may confer upon a candidate. SHRM's survey also found that while most HR professionals said they agreed that alternative credentials may equate to an associate degree, only 36% said they may equate to a bachelor's degree.
"SHRM's research clearly shows a demand for credentials, but it also uncovers the need for more transparency in their development and use, as well as a need for setting the standard for quality," Sean Murphy, director, opportunity at Walmart, said in a statement accompanying SHRM's report.
Some organizations have made attempts to standardize credentials. In 2019, IBM launched a credentialing platform it said would provide workers a "permanent, verifiable record" of their learning supported by blockchain technology.
In a separate document, SHRM outlined steps employers could take to improve the adoption of alternative credentials, including providing education to HR professionals and hiring managers to make them a part of inclusive hiring strategies, developing incentive programs to reward credential-related initiatives and adopting internal systems that acknowledge credentials when screening applicants.