THE POWER OF DIGITAL BADGES IN REVOLUTIONIZING EMPLOYER ENGAGEMENT AND WORKFORCE CREDENTIALS
The landscape of today’s employment track has been dramatically changed through the years. On the present issues about communication and skills gap, employers are now struggling to find qualified employees with the right competencies they need. With these complications, each and every one of us should not keep a blind eye with what is currently happening around.
In a webinar, Brenda Perea, the Director of Education and Workforce Solutions at Credly Inc., who also helped lead a radical program in the State of Colorado across Colorado Community College System (CCCS) to combat these pressing situation, stressed the effects of these destructive gaps, locally and nationally, through numerous shocking statistics particularly in the state of Colorado and in the whole US:
“Nationally there was a perception of skills gap and most recently the Business Roundtable released their 2017 report work in progress validating the US as a lack of skilled workers which is impacting the national economy. There was also a July 2017 report on Small Business Optimism Index and noted that the group surveyed 60% reported hiring or trying to hire but only 52% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. The issue of finding qualified applicants is severing industries such as Construction and Manufacturing. For instance in Colorado, in 2014, there was an estimated 16,000 unfilled Advanced Manufacturing Jobs which were predicted to grow by 45,000 by 2016. Why? Employers were struggling to find employees with the competencies they needed.”
Still, in relation to Colorado’s evident problem, Perea added, “The problem was that employers were searching for applicants with specific skills, abilities and competencies but Colorado Community College System transcripts only listed grades, course titles, certificate and degrees. Employers had no way to match the transcript information to the skills and abilities needed for those open positions. Yes, the communication GAP is real. As evidence in Colorado, there's a communications gap between higher education and employers in conveying what the student can do and what is visible on a student's transcripts. Well, higher education document flooring with courses, certficate and transcripts, applicants are using resumes to document their skills and employers are seeking applicants with posted job descriptions. On the surface, it seems that we are all speaking the same language but when you're really trying to document is what a person can actually do on a job site, this disconnect is illustrated by an employer who stood up and stated that your students can't do Math on my manufacturing mine and are costing me money at a regional sector summit meeting here in Colorado.”
In resolve to the problem, Perea furtherly discussed about how the issuance of digital badges help meet employer demand:
“To an employer, a digital badge can validate what an applicant can actually do and expands the ability of an industry employer to expand their workforce or improve their workforce skills. Effective management of skills and abilities depends upon validated and verifiable knowledge, skills, and abilities; the exchange of transparent, portable and data-rich credentials - digital badges is the currency of choice in the marketplace for knowledge and skills.”
Kim Larson-Cooney, Former Executive Director of Workforce and Community Programs at Arapahoe Community College and who’s now an outside consultant in helping higher education institutions engage employers in programs within their systems, expressed that digital badges create surprising results, in the sense that they are quite versatile, competency-specific, and it offers a great return of investment, in terms of time engagement.
Things aren’t also possible without aligning higher education institutions with employers, and Perea, by showing a recent survey, stated that slight problems can be seen when it comes to this decision, she said:
“Our partner, Wonderlic, completed a survey, and they discovered 60% of employers agreed that they would be more inclined to interview graduates that had job-specific skill badges on their resumes, and 86.6% agreed that local educators should provide their students with job-specific badges that verify skills. These all things very straight-forward however, for higher ed these simple request take time, manpower, and a paradigm shift from businesses usual.”
On the other hand, with this employer engagement, Yvonne Gilstrap, Colorado's first and existing industry program manager, who manages a yearly grant of $4.5 million to develop training partners to expand their abilities to engage employers in workforce development at the workforce and training program area in CCCS, cited her experiences in the field in becoming knowledgeable of what companies and industries need in terms of educated employees through directly hearing from these sectors what trainings they need and value:
“When we listen to company's training needs, it can drive new community course offerings, it is especially important to hear from companies the exact competencies they desire for the success of their businesses, then we can begin to develop new training courses. Working with Colorado's first industry training program, I have a great opportunity to drop-in and visit with companies to begin a relationship through the use of grant funding, which requires the site visit. It provides the opportunity to delve a little deeper into their employee training needs.”
Erudite Nursing Institute ™, in partnership with employers and higher education institutions strive to innovate more in terms of using digital badges in accordance to workforce credentials and employer engagement. With continued research and planning, the institute’s banner, of offering a nursing career, is currently on the loop with the issuance of these digital badges.