As the United States increasingly shifts to a skill-based economy (with jobs that require more than a high school education, but less than a four-year degree now making up the largest sector of our labor market), the portion of the workforce needing occupational licenses to operate has exploded, from only one in twenty sixty years ago to one in four today.  This has created a steep workload for the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR), which oversees the credentialing of hundreds of thousands of Virginians holding occupational licenses, including electricians, massage therapists, architects, real estate agents, cosmetologists and many others.  The uptick in licensed professionals has also created a heavy burden for employers who must verify the credentials of the skilled workers they hire, which has been a complicated process utilizing a paperwork system that was not easy to navigate.  Now, DPOR has launched a digital platform called Merit to issue licenses and register certified professionals.  Merit will be a centralized and secure site where employers and consumers alike can quickly and easily verify a professional’s licenses and credentials.  This new platform makes it easier for Virginia workers to establish they have the necessary skills and qualifications, which in turn simplifies the hiring process for Virginia workplaces.