Is your college part of the the 21st Century Skills Badges initiative?

A new initiative urges consistent digital badge adoption

The 21st Century Skills Badges initiative, from Education Design Lab, is based on three years of research, design, and pilots and offers a suite of eight digital badges, often called microcredentials, along with a facilitator’s toolkit, to help educators and employers understand the skills students have cultivated.

Education Design Lab partnered with 12 universities and 50 employers to develop the badges. Students can display them on LinkedIn accounts or resumes.

Employers say they have an increasingly difficult time finding highly-qualified applicants for job openings, particularly in STEM fields such as computer science. The digital badges are designed to be “machine readable” by search algorithms recruiters use to identify potential job candidates.

“Now, more than ever, it is increasingly important to find candidates who are a good fit,” says Shonn Colbrunn, senior director of human resources at Spectrum Health System. “A resume will show what degree someone earns, but it is more difficult to gauge their level of interpersonal skills. The rigor that goes into earning a digital badge provides a helpful indicator of what we can expect to see from that person on the job.”

The digital badges, developed in partnership with individual universities, each represent sought-after skills employers wants in potential employees, including initiative, collaboration, creative problem solving, critical thinking, intercultural fluency, empathy, oral communication, and resilience.

Beyond the pilot universities, more than 100 learning institutions in higher education and K-12 signed up in advance of the broader release to consider implementing the 21st Century Skills Badges.

The suite of eight digital badges is part of a larger movement to drive overall microcredential adoption. The #TeeUpTheSkills movement urges the public to adopt an accessible and consistent currency for credentials across the hiring landscape.

“In a tightening job market, we need better signals than a resume to find candidates who are a good fit. We believe digital badges will be powerful market signals for employability, particularly in building more diverse hiring pools for roles where interpersonal skills matter more than technical know-how,” says Kathleen deLaski, founder of Education Design Lab.

Watch the video below for more information about the digital badge initiative:

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione