Employment and Jobs

Models of Upskilling: Certifications

June 1, 2017  • UpSkill America & Jaime S. Fall

In some cases, industry recognized certifications are created and made available through recognized organizations that bring consistency and standardization to these credentials. Some examples include:


In June 2018, Boeing launched new workforce development programs, an online network of resources designed to make learning more accessible to employees at all levels of the company. A new partnership with Degreed.com will provide employees with access to online lessons, certification courses and degree programs. The investment will also fund several programs to help employees enhance technical skills and understand industry trends, tools, and technologies. Boeing also made a $6 million investment in the future technical workforce through a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and several Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The strategic investment will support scholarships, internships, and immersive “boot camp” programs to help students experience what it’s like to work at Boeing. The company plans to announce additional employee education investments later in 2018.


In 2015, IBM launched its digital credential program on Credly’s Acclaim platform to increase employee recognition, motivate skill progression and make the IT workforce more inclusive. As of 2018, more than 350,000 individuals have earned a digital credential through the program, and over 1 million digital credentials have been issued. IBM digital credentials are an integral component of the organization’s training and recognition approach and are used to create skill heat maps that identify existing talent pools to quickly ramp up new technology initiatives. Digital credentials are driving measurable results for IBM, with 87% of digital credential earners reporting that they feel more engaged with IBM and are motivated to learn more. These reports bear out, with a 125% increase in enrollment for digital-credentialed IBM courses and a 694% increase in completions of IBM digital-credentialed online courses. IBM’s digital credential program will continue to play a significant role in future initiatives, such as New Collar Jobs and academic institutions accepting IBM digital credentials for college credit.

Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC)

MSSC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, industry-led training, assessment, and certification system focused on the core skills and knowledge the nation’s frontline production and material handling workers need. The nationwide MSSC System, based on industry-defined and federally endorsed standards, offers both entry-level and incumbent workers the opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired the necessary skills for the technology-intensive jobs of the 21st century. MSSC offers two certifications for this workforce: Certified Production Technician and Certified Logistics Technician.

Manufacturing Skills Institute (MSI)

The Manufacturing Technician 1 (MT1) certification program develops the core industry-wide skills standards required for skilled production occupations in all sectors of manufacturing: (1) Math and Measurement, (2) Spatial Reasoning and Manufacturing Technology, and (3) Business Acumen and Quality, measuring an individual’s skills attainment in 12 critical technical skills.

National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3)

A coalition of colleges and businesses has created a workforce development program for training and professional certification through a partnership with the National Coalition of Certification Centers. Coalition members are provided with resources and expert consultation including tools and equipment, facility planning, faculty training, and support needed to develop and deliver professional certification programs linked to company-specific tools and occupations in industries such as aviation, energy, manufacturing, and transportation, among others.

National Retail Federation

The National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation brought together dozens of retailers and nonprofits to launch RISE Up (Retail Industry Skills & Education), a new training and credentialing initiative designed by NRF and leading retailers to help entry-level retail workers and jobseekers learn retail industry fundamentals as well as basic and advanced customer service and sales skills. Through RISE Up’s learning portal, users can access training and exam materials, take exams, get reports of their progress, and access digital badges, among other services.


In June 2020, Walmart announced an expansion of its Live Better U education benefit program to include six skilled trades options, including Facilities Maintenance, Industrial Maintenance, HVAC/Refrigeration, Electrical, Plumbing, and Construction Trades (Construction Helper, Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer, Flooring Installer, General Maintenance and Repair Worker, Insulation Worker, Woodworker). Associates of Walmart and Sam’s Club enroll in the program through Guild Education, the operator of the Live Better U program, and take educational courses online through Penn Foster. At Penn Foster’s recommended pace of about 10 hours a week, programs take from six to 12 months to complete. Once associates complete coursework and earn a workforce certificate in a trade, Walmart has plans to help them land entry-level roles at Walmart, Sam’s Club, or with a company in Walmart’s contractor network, where they will gain the on-the-job training and experience they need to prepare for state certificate or licensure exams. These local connections forged through work-based learning will be critical to helping people gain the experience and begin to build professional networks they need to be successful long-term.


Learn more
Employment and Jobs
Models of Upskilling
June 1, 2017 • UpSkill America & 1 more


Table of Contents
Employment and Jobs
UpSkilling Playbook for Employers
June 1, 2017 • UpSkill America & 1 more