credentials funding

Want $10K to close the skills gap?

A new credentialing competition seeks ways to close the skills gap

Higher-ed groups have launched a new crowdsourcing challenge in an effort to generate new ideas and stimulate breakthrough thinking to close the skills gap.

The competition, from digital credential platform Credly, with support from Lumina Foundation, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the American Council on Education (ACE), is open to the public.

“Education institutions, associations, and employers all play critical roles in assessing and certifying skills and abilities,” said Jonathan Finkelstein, CEO of Credly. “Digital credentials convert these verified competencies into a portable currency which unlocks opportunities and illuminates career pathways. Currencies of value require widespread adoption and we’re eager to see what new ideas this challenge inspires.”

Increasingly, employers are looking for evidence of specific skills not traditionally represented on a college transcript, diploma, or resume. The crowdsourced competition reflects a shift toward competency-based hiring among employers seeking job-ready applicants, as 5.4 million U.S. jobs remain open, but unfilled, this fall.

In addition to monetary awards of up to $10,000, the winners will have the opportunity to present their idea at ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference, March 5-7, 2017, in Orlando, Florida.

“Embracing multiple pathways and offering a more coherent system that recognizes skills demonstrated in both academic and industry contexts is critical to ensuring that our students attain the credentials they need to be successful in today’s workplace,” said Molly Corbett Broad, President of the American Council on Education. “Using digital credentials to surface skills learned in the classroom and through industry experience can help bridge the gap between education and the world of work. We are eager to bring to light innovative models and ideas that help learners get credit for meaningful knowledge and abilities observed across learning and professional environments.”

As some of the most active issuers of certificates and credentials, industry and trade associations are in a unique position to evaluate the capabilities of job candidates and authenticate digital badges to current and future employers.

“Associations play a critical role in training and validating skills — from wood flooring to financial planning — that provide individuals with the skills to succeed across a wide range of industries,” said Rhonda M. Payne, CAE, Chief Learning Officer of ASAE. “We’re excited to provide an opportunity for association leaders to showcase and scale creative ways to use digital credentials and certifications, and test critical assumptions about their social and economic impact.”

Digital credentials can be used to promote qualifications on professional and social networks, job and college applications, and employer talent management systems. They allow individuals to showcase verified, portable, and data-rich records of skills and certifications that demonstrate competencies sought by today’s employers.

“Lumina Foundation is using all of the tools at its disposal to help the nation achieve Goal 2025: increasing the proportion of Americans with degrees, certificates, and other high-quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “That includes the opportunity to work with Credly, ASAE, and ACE to promote innovation in recognizing competencies and connecting them to opportunities.”

The challenge will be hosted on the Innocentive crowdsourcing platform. Submissions open on Thursday, November 10th and close on Friday, December 30 at 11:59 PM EST. To learn more about the challenge requirements and how to submit an entry, visit the challenge page.

Laura Ascione