EESCC roadmapOh no, another roadmap! Sometimes dubbed business or strategic plans, they come with different personalities and effectiveness. Many end up sitting on the proverbial “shelf,” but I’m writing about one that won’t collect dust.

On June 23, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) released the Standardization Roadmap: Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment. Five areas are covered in the Roadmap. IREC, along with Professional Testing, Inc. (PTI), co-chaired the area on workforce credentials.

I worked with my colleagues, IREC Credentialing Program Director Laure-Jeanne Davignon and PTI’s Christine Niero and for over a year and a half, we met with experts from plumbing, welding, refrigeration, air conditioning, building performance and other related companies and energy efficiency organizations. It was a deliberate process carefully organized to encourage input and participation from a wide spread of stakeholders. The industry was at the table and active participants. Our end result is 16 recommendations to advance workforce credentialing for the energy efficiency field. These recommendations go way beyond energy efficiency and apply to all industries, as well as the credentialing community.

The beginning point for the workforce credentials group was that well-developed, professional certifications, certificate programs and accreditation assessments are at the heart of a strong workforce and ensuing resilient market. There was consensus from the start on this assumption. But, we then had to dig and discuss what is behind the credential – how it is developed, administered and maintained, and how to have confidence in what it means.

Right off the bat, we zeroed in on the consequences caused by different interpretations and misunderstanding of terms. Not surprisingly, our first recommendation starts with the fundamental of effective communications by calling for common workforce terminology. Based on referenced sources, the roadmap offers definitions. It’s now up to the larger workforce and credentialing communities cross-cutting all industries to rally round a common set of easily understood terms and definitions, then bring them into everyday use.

Another major theme that weaves its way throughout the roadmap’s Workforce Credentialing Chapter is the desired reach for credible credentials that hold market value. That’s a tall order, but the chapter offers indicators of what makes for quality credentialing programs and how credentials need to be built on competencies called for by employers. There needs to be proof of purpose for credentials and to get there, third-party assessment of certification and certificate programs is encouraged.

State and federal agencies should recognize accredited credentialing programs. This is a recommendation that is gaining traction. IREC is working with the Clean Energy Credentialing Coalition to support and integrate valid, quality assurances into publicly-funded training and incentive programs. We’ve seen this with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization program, in New York with NYSERDA’s workforce programs, with Workforce Investment Boards in California and Colorado, and recently with DOE’s guidance memo from the Wind and Water Power Office recommending certification as a means of consumer and stakeholder protection.

I hope you take a look at these recommendations. We’ll be moving on these with ANSI and the other companies and organizations who were part of the credentialing working group.

All who were involved with this chapter put in a great amount of time. We met just about every other week over the duration of the project, which resulted in some pretty deep discussions and varied viewpoints. I send a special thanks to ANSI’s Jana Zabinski and Jessica Carl for giving us support and guidance and keeping us on course.

Don’t hang up yet. I have some exciting news to share. We welcome Marlee Morgan Lawrence born on June 18. Congratulations to Mary, Richard and George.

Talk with you soon.