- Education Design Lab (EDL) is launching a two-year study and expanding a pilot to test the value of credentials during the hiring process, particularly for underserved learners.
- The new initiative, called BadgedToHire, will build on the nonprofit's campaign connecting businesses and educators to design microcredentials that validate in-demand skills.
- Three U.S. regions will participate in the pilot, coordinating with the University of Maine, San Jose State University and Central New Mexico Community College.
EDL chose the three institutions based on their extensive outreach into underserved communities, including African American, Native American and Latino populations, as well as active-duty military, veterans and students based in rural areas.
Many employers have already turned away from GPA and college degrees as indicators of a worker's potential success, opening the door to nontraditionally trained workers. In turn, employers and learning providers are experimenting with digital credentialing and badges as a means to verify ability.
Some of the most popular microcredentials are for tech-based skills and for "soft" skills such as empathy and resilience, EDL founder and president Kathleen deLaski told Education Dive earlier this year. "In the next decade, colleges will compete for students at a competency level, not a degree level," she said.
Collaborations between businesses, educators and government agencies have sprouted a number of similar pilot programs throughout the country. Credly announced a collaboration with the American Council on Education in 2017, and IBM started experimenting with digital badges that year to help employees demonstrate their gained skills. Even highly specialized skills, like agile project management, are starting to see the use of badges and other credentialing.
A study from Intrepid noted that employers may be missing the mark as far as learning programs go, either by investing in the wrong training or by doing little more than paying lip service to their programs. But, perhaps in response to rising demand, more industries are embracing forms of digital learning.
In turn, colleges are accepting some digital credentials offered by employers as credit for degree programs. Northeastern University, for instance, will allow students to count IBM credentials toward several master's degrees.
"Universities and colleges have to get past the idea that working closely with the private sector is a bad thing or that it somehow tarnishes their brands," Kemi Jona, the university's associate dean for digital innovation and enterprise learning, told Education Dive earlier this month.