There’s no such thing as a risk-free investment.
Or is there?
As employers, schools, and students contemplate how to invest their dollars to yield the greatest return, they may want to consider recent studies on the benefits of earning professional industry certifications.
While it’s true that there’s no such thing as an entirely risk-free investment, the numbers don’t fib: earning professional software certifications yields a high return on investment (ROI) for the workforce, schools, and students.
ROI for the Workforce
The findings of a Burning Glass study drew the attention of The Wall Street Journal in an article titled, “The Key to a Good-Paying Job Is…Microsoft Excel?”
Study highlights show that it’s practically imperative for workers entering the workforce to possess Microsoft Office skills. “The most commonly required skills are also the most basic ones,” the report states. “Spreadsheet and word-processing software such as Microsoft Corp.’s Excel and Word.”
The Burning Glass study also found that:
- Spreadsheet and word processing proficiencies have become a baseline requirement for the majority of middle-skill opportunities (78%)
- Digitally intensive middle-skill occupations offer 18% higher wages on average
- Digitally intensive jobs have grown 2.5 times more rapidly than middle-skill jobs that do not require spreadsheets, word processing, or other digital skills (between 2003 and 2013, 4.7% growth for digitally intensive jobs compared to 1.9% growth for other positions)
Despite these benefits, workers entering workforce often come without the needed baseline digital skills. “Effectively, entire segments of the U.S. economy are off-limits to people who don’t have basic digital skills,” the report notes, suggesting that schools and other training sites should go back to the basics.
Supply and demand dictates that employers will seek and pay for those who have these proficiencies. Industry certifications, such as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), teach and test Microsoft software skills. Further, they provide recognized stamps of approval to those who earn their certification. For employers, the ROI on a digitally skilled employee will be greater than on one who enters the job at a remedial level.
ROI for the Education System
School systems have limited budget to invest in programs that will help prepare their students for higher learning and for pursuing a career.
As it turns out, the ROI is demonstrably high for school systems that invest in programs to train and certify students in Microsoft Office software.
The Florida Case
Florida schools have a CAPE program (Career & Professional Education Act). CAPE focuses on teaching professional-level skills that translate to workforce success. At Dunbar High School, for example, CAPE Academy students perform better than non-academy students. The school invested in a program to train CAPE students and help them earn industry-recognized certifications for Microsoft Office software.
CAPE Academy students who earned professional-level certifications—
- Outperformed their peers in average GPA (see chart 2)
- Showed lower dropout rates
- Showed higher rates of graduation
- Outperformed non-academy peers on Florida standardized testing (FCAT)
The conclusion? Industry-recognized certification works in academia to boost student performance and longevity. (Note: The study is not just for Microsoft certification, as CAPE Academy cuts across data for students studying in multiple industry segments and technology areas.)
ROI for the Student
The numbers show that student market value (salary) with industry certification is greater than without it (see chart 3).
What do industry certifications mean to me?
That’s the question asked by students, schools, and employers as they consider investing time and money into certification programs. While there’s no such thing as a risk-free investment, the numbers show that investing in such programs is about as close to a risk-free investment as one can get.
Would you like more discussion about this issue and how it affects you? If you happen to be attending the Advance CTE Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, on Monday, October 17, stop by our hospitality suite from 8:00-10:00 p.m. We’ll be in Suite 1026 of the BWI Airport Marriott. We look forward to seeing you!
Contact: Mike Maddock
Director of Strategic Accounts
This post was written by Certiport, a Pearson VUE Business, is the sole provider of industry certifications such as Microsoft Office Specialist, Adobe Certified Associate, Autodesk Certified User, IC3 Digital Literacy Certification, and others. Certiport is a sponsor of the 2016 Advance CTE Fall Meeting. Thank you Certiport!