How Credentials Can Help Students Prepare for Future Success: Linda Noonan Discusses MBAE’s New Initiative

In the 21st century, the world of work is constantly changing. This podcast series, Reimagining Career Pathways, will explore the needs of the future workforce, rethinking traditional education pathways to connect students today with the in-demand jobs and skills of the future.

Across the nation, companies are struggling to find qualified workers to fill in-demand jobs. According to Linda Noonan, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, the skills gap in Massachusetts is due in part to a lack of exposure to career options.

“We know that the demand for middle-skill workers—and middle-skill jobs are those that require some post-secondary training, but not necessarily a four year degree—are very hard to fill,” says Linda.

“As a matter of fact, by next year it’s expected that the demand will exceed the supply by 150,000 positions. And this shortage of skilled workers is threatening not only employers’ ability to expand and grow—75 percent of them tell us that filling jobs is their number one concern. But at the same time it leaves students ill-equipped to take advantage of those opportunities.”

MBAE launched the Credentials for Success initiative to try to help close this skills gap. The goal is to expand opportunities for students to earn industry-recognized credentials in high school, so they can enhance their employability early on. Linda says credentials should be offered at schools as an option, not an end-all be-all requirement.

“This is basically another tool that schools can access, should they choose, to serve their kids, and to help get their kids future ready—regardless of what that future will hold. Whether it’s college or not,” says Linda.

In Florida, where schools receive a financial incentive for each student that earns an industry-recognized credential that is tied to labor market demand, “Students who enrolled in the program have demonstrated higher GPAs, higher graduation rates, higher post-secondary enrollment rates, and students had higher placement rates in employment following high school graduation. And with industry certifications, they surpassed their peers in overall average earnings by the third year they were in the workforce.”

Read our full interview with Linda Noonan and EdTech Times guest host Kevin Fudge of ASA, to learn more about how credentials can help better prepare students for the workforce.

This podcast episode is sponsored by American Student Assistance®. ASA® is a national nonprofit committed to helping kids know themselves, know their options, and make informed choices to achieve their education and career goals. To learn more about ASA, visit

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren is the General Manager of EdTech Times. A Texan by birth but a Bostonian at heart, Hannah is an educational writer, AmeriCorps alum, and one-time StartupWeekend EDU (SWEDU) winning team member. She started her career at a Pearson-incubated edtech startup, but has since covered travel, food & culture, and even stonemasonry in addition to education.