Dailey stresses importance of industry credentialing for soldiers

Dailey stresses importance of industry credentialing for soldiers

Friday, April 1, 2016

For 240 years we have been training Soldiers how to do some of the most technical trades in the Nation.

Welding, electrical engineering, hazardous materials transportation and many other skills are taught in the military professional education system, and perfected over a career.

But, we have never given these experts a way to receive credit for that knowledge and skill in the civilian workforce – until now.

A new component of our Professional Development process under the banner of the newly launched Army University system will help create a career-ready workforce.

Soldiers have training, experience and talent that can be readily applied to civilian careers.

One of the best ways to translate this into terms that civilian employers understand is through a credential which can be earned through MOS-producing schools as well as through FORSCOM [Army Forces Command] units.

Army University, in tandem with the Soldier for Life office, is actively seeking to equate our nearly 150 Military Occupational Specialties [MOS] to an industry recognized credential or license.

The Army University, in coordination with Centers of Excellence and schools, is drafting an Army Credentialing Program Strategy.

The primary objective of the Army Credentialing Program Strategy is to establish and implement programs that validate Soldiers’ professional skills, training, and work experiences, and bolster professional, technical competence within Army formations.

All Army MOS training proponents have been tasked to conduct an MOS-by-MOS analysis for credentialing opportunities. Army training schools approve and categorize credentials into three priority levels based on how well the credential improves Soldier readiness and MOS capability and capacity.

Not only will these efforts help Army career managers better manage their talent pool and encourage progressive, sequential military professional education to ultimately improve readiness, they also give Soldiers tangible, marketable skills for when they transition from the service.

In FY15, Soldiers attained a total of 29,787 credentials.

Of those, 13,819 were voluntary credentials and 15,968 were mandatory credentials required by the Soldiers’ MOS.

Soldiers attained 26,750 credentials through TRADOC schools, and 3,037 through MEDCOM [Army Medical Command] schools.

The Army COOL (Credentialing Opportunities On-Line) assists Soldiers in finding information on certifications and licenses related to their Army jobs.

Soldiers may also pursue credentialing independent of their MOS training. Promotion points are awarded to Soldiers for earning certain credentials related to their MOS.

As a result of our synchronous efforts with government agencies and interaction with communities, on average, the Army has seen a decrease in unemployment compensation for former service members and a decrease in Veteran unemployment.

We estimate it costs less than $300 per Soldier for credentialing and licensing, which aids in post-service employment.

The cost avoidance is the estimated $8,000 average per Veteran the Army pays in unemployment compensation. Expansion of the credentialing efforts is therefore seen as a fiscally responsible endeavor.

Despite these efforts, much still needs to be done.

Currently, all credentialing expenditures are absorbed by the schoolhouses, the Career Skills Program, or by the individual Soldier. The Army will need Department of Defense and Congressional support to get us to our end state.

We know not every MOS-producing school will be able to incorporate the logical civilian equivalent credential training content into its program of instruction for various reasons.

So, the Army is sending a proposal through DoD to Congress which would allow us to open the aperture on use of Tuition Assistance [TA].

Under current policy, TA can only be used for degree-producing programs.

The aim of our proposal is to allow Soldiers to use TA to pay for preparatory courses to help them bridge the gap between their professional military education and the knowledge they need to achieve the credential or license.

It would also allow Soldiers who want to seek employment outside of their MOS to prepare for the career change.

We are also working with Congress to highlight state best-practices that support expanded acceptance of Soldier MOS training. Many trade or technical licenses are awarded by the states, and the criteria for licensure varies widely between states.

These factors make it difficult for Soldiers to transition to employment swiftly, even though they have a wealth of practical skill and knowledge.

We have had success demonstrating our programs to individual members of the House, who have been instrumental in communicating to, and connecting our installations with, local partners looking for a skilled pool of potential employees.

By expanding our efforts on credentialing, we can demonstrate our investment in our greatest asset – the Soldier.

In the near-term, credentialing helps develop a skilled Soldier ready to accomplish the Army mission. In the long-term, we are providing a Soldier with the tools he or she needs to successfully and quickly transition back into their community.

This is how we make "Soldier for Life" more than a bumper sticker.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army

Daniel A. Dailey