Report: 4 Possible Future Credentialing Systems
Systems of documenting the knowledge and skills of students and employees
could change dramatically over the next 10 years, according to a new report
from KnowledgeWorks, a nonprofit
organization that works with schools and communities to foster personalized
The report, "Certifying
Skills and Knowledge: Four Scenarios on the Future of Credentials,"
examines trends in education and the workplace to identify four possible
scenarios for changes to credentialing over the next 10 years, including a
baseline future that is much like the current system of credentialing, two
alternative futures and a wild-card scenario.
In the baseline future, diplomas, degrees and certificates remain the
dominant form of credentials. However, even this baseline future foresees
increasingly diverse paths to achieving those credentials, such as online
education, charter schools and homeschool, and an increase in micro-credentials
such as badges to represent acquired skills and knowledge at a granular
The first alternative scenario envisions a future where employers accept
micro-credentials, such as badges, and other alternative forms of micro- and
nano-credentials on a standalone basis, "breaking higher education's near
monopoly on credentialing for professional careers," according to the
The second alternative scenario envisions a future where technology allows
people to track all of their experiences and document them as a form of
The wild card scenario describes a future where technological breakthroughs
enable brain functions to be mapped and tracked to create credentials based on
an individual's cognitive abilities and socio-emotional skills.
"Workforce development would benefit from an updated credentialing
system for the 21st century," said Judy Peppler, president and CEO of
KnowledgeWorks, in a prepared statement. "As education changes to a more
vibrant learning ecosystem, so will the workforce continue to change to a more
networked environment. We will need to be able to track learning experiences to
better understand an individual's qualifications and skill set. Through
alternative credentialing options, the employment sector will start to see a
more robust and diverse workforce."
The paper expands on KnowledgeWorks' 2012 report, "Recombinant
Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem," which outlined five
potential changes to education in the future.
A free PDF of the report, "Certifying Skills and Knowledge: Four
Scenarios on the Future of Credentials," can be found on the KnowledgeWorks
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at email@example.com.