Quality and In-Demand Non-Degree Credentials Framework - Colorado

Last Updated: 03/09/2024

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Overview

The Framework is a definition and evaluation rubric developed by Partners in the TalentFOUND network, including the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC), Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), Colorado Community College System (CCCS), Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and Colorado Succeeds. Stakeholders from business, education, and governmental and non-governmental organizations provided input during the framework's development.

The framework is being used within Colorado to:

  • Evaluate non-degree credentials offered by higher education institutions (Senate Bill 23-065).
  • Identify credentials to be added to the state's Career Development Incentive Program's approved programs as directed by SB23-065.
  • Evaluate credentials for inclusion in Colorado's Eligible Training Provider List — this list is intended for publication on the Credential Engine CTDL - Credential Transparency Description Language by December 2024.

The framework can be used to identify credentials which provide value to jobseekers and employers, and which are stackable in order to support progressive learning and future career advancement. The framework provides the definitions to categorize a credential and a rubric to evaluate quality.

To be considered a quality and in-demand non-degree credential, the credential must align with industry and economic demand, have transparent evidence of skills and competencies learned when earning the credential, have evidence of substantial employment outcomes, and be stackable in a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time to build skills and advance an individual’s career and earnings. Some credentials provide immediate entry into an occupation, and those which are required by law or prerequisite to a registered apprenticeship program are considered to meet the framework's definition.

The credential must demonstrate each of the following four signals of quality (rubrics) and meet at least one of the following criteria in each category.

  • Demand
    • Connects to a Top Job or critical occupation listed in the Talent Pipeline Report over the last 3 years.
    • Defined as a regional need or emerging credential by the local Workforce Development Board or Approving Agency.
    • Accredited or recognized by a statewide or national industry-recognized accredited body.
  • Evidence of Skills
    • Provides clearly identified information on what skills and competencies are demonstrated by earning the credential.
  • Employment Outcomes
    • Directly leads to a job paying a living wage (as defined by the MIT living wage calculator for each county).
    • Develops the essential skills and competencies needed for jobs that pay a living wage.
    • Can be stacked with other credentials to earn a living wage in an in-demand occupation or career pathway.
  • Stackability
    • Exists as part of a stackable sequence of aligned credentials allowing for skill development, career progression, and increased earnings over time.
    • Is a prerequisite to a credential required by industry to obtain a job.
    • Leads to family living wage in a growing occupation on its own.

Another way the credential may meet this requirement is to meet one of the following criteria:

  • The credential is required by law (i.e., Department of Regulatory Agencies or other regulatory/certifying agency) or is a prerequisite to a credential required by law.
  • The credential is part of or a prerequisite to a Registered Apprenticeship Program.
  • The credential leads to a critical occupation identified by the Colorado Workforce Development Council’s Career Pathways Team, as evidenced by being directly related to an occupation or pathway in Careers in Colorado in My Colorado Journey.

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