Connecting Credentials Framework

Students, advisors and their future employers face an extraordinary challenge: In a relative vacuum, they must make decisions about the credentials to pursue and recommend—decisions that can determine the ability to transition from school to employment, to advance in career and life, and to find the right talent for the job. The stakes are high. Yet the competencies students might develop through each degree, certificate, license or badge are difficult to discern, and even more difficult to organize into a coherent, successful development path.

In a rapidly evolving world, competencies are currency—powering the success of students and employers alike. If we distill diverse credentials down to the
universally recognized competencies they support and workforce demands they meet, we empower people, commerce and communities in important new ways.

That’s what the beta Connecting Credentials Framework is all about. It identifies the competencies underpinning credentials, educational programs and work, establishing common language and delineating levels of proficiency to describe what people who have mastered these competencies know and are able to do.

Learn more about the genesis and testing of the Credentials Framework.

Getting Started

Use the Credentials Framework process to profile existing credentials – or to guide the development of new credentials. Here’s how:




The Framework provides a rubric with which to assess the level of knowledge and skills found in competencies. Use it as a reference guide when filling out your profile template. Find step-by-step instructions and tools in the Guidebook.

Download Complete Toolset




Start by listing the competencies being profiled. Referring to the Framework rubric, select the level of knowledge (1 – 8) that best describes each competency, and note it in the template. Repeat this process for each skill column (specialized, personal, and social).

Complete a separate profile for each item (credential, program, or job description) you want to compare.




Once completed, your profile enables “apples to apples” comparison with other credentials. Analyze your results to identify patterns, expose gaps and uncover opportunities—then determine the necessary strategies to help you meet your goals.

We’d love your feedback! If you’ve used the beta Connecting Credentials Framework, please take a moment to complete our brief survey.

Applying the Profile

The Credentials Framework process can be applied to instructional modules, courses, or entire educational/training programs to provide valuable insights to educators and employers.

Use your completed profile to…

  • Compare competencies across courses and programs
  • Improve alignment of educational programs to industry credentials
  • Improve alignment of educational programs to job market needs
  • Assess and award credit for work-based learning (prior learning)
  • Create and map stackable credentials
  • Align educational programs within regions and within states
  • Develop pathway strategies to produce talent pipelines
  • Make explicit employability skills found in courses and programs
  • Create competency-based talent management systems
Impact In Action

Higher education teams, professional associations and credential developers are already using the Credentials Framework Beta test to improve clarity and parity across the complex credentials landscape. See representative examples below, or read on for additional inspiration.

Creating a New Path to Certification in Childhood Development

Columbus State Community College (CSCC) saw an opportunity to help those entering the Early Childhood Development field successfully secure Childhood Development Association (CDA) certification. CDA certification has been mandated in many states, including Ohio.

The college used the Framework to align program competencies and create a path for those practicing in the field to secure the certification and receive credit toward a degree. CSCC has secured a completion scholarship from AT&T for those who completed the certification and enter into the Early Childhood Development Education program.

The project was so successful that the City of Columbus awarded the college $300K for implementation.

Finding and Developing Retail Talent

Hope Street Group Project recognized that for small and medium-sized retail businesses, securing and retaining quality employees is a challenge. The Beta Connecting Credentials Framework was used to develop an easy way for these businesses to explore and adopt a competency-based Talent Management System.

This system can be used to help retailers hire the right people for the right job, help improve employee performance and help employees understand what skills are needed to progress in a retail career. The system is flexible and adaptable so the specific talent needs of the business can be addressed.

Verifying an Investment in Workforce Development

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) has had a long-standing and continually growing involvement in the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) system in their district and state.

The college was approached by the state’s Workforce Investment Board to help with the verification of the state’s “Smart Start” curriculum and credential.

MGCCC used the Beta Connecting Credentials Framework to profile the credential for the State of Mississippi.

Lumina Logo
CSW Logo