Learning and Employment Records (LERs)

LERs are digital records of an individual’s formal and informal learning and employment that better represent learners with diverse experiences in the job market.

At the Lab, we’re working to identify best practices and test new models with employers and institutions looking to bring LERs to life in service of learners.

Skills visibility is a game-changer for learner economic mobility.

LER technology and tools provide individuals with a platform to showcase skills, credentials, and experiences from various employers and learning providers, which may supplement — or even replace — traditional degrees.
 
 

Opportunity seeker and their credential wallet sending and receiving Learning and Employment Records to Learning Providers, Employers, Other Providers, and Talent market places.

The language of employers is that of capabilities — can your learners speak to how their skills align to professional standards?

The ability to curate and showcase trusted skill records from many sources of learning and employment will offer a competitive edge in the labor market. Skills visibility is becoming crucial in the job market as the gap widens between employer needs and the skills of the workforce. An ubiquitous problem around the nation is the need for organizations to both upskill the local workforce and help individuals communicate those skills. LER technology and tools provide individuals with a platform to showcase skills, credentials, and experiences from various employers and learning providers, which may supplement — or even replace — traditional degrees.

These tools promote a shift toward more precise and transparent job matching based on verified skill data and labor market needs.

In this emerging skills-based economy, standardized technologies, like Learning and Employment Records (LERs) technologies provide a way for individuals to document their achievements and communicate their qualifications using skills like currency. Early in the integration of these technologies into talent recruitment and management practices is the shift to skills-based job postings that emphasize component skills (in addition to credentials) as opposed to the prioritization of 4-year degrees; this attention to trusted sources of skill demonstration provides a means for opening the aperture to an evolving and diverse talent pipeline.

What are LERs? How do they work? Where are we now?

What are Learning Employment Records, or LERs for short?

LERs are an open standards-based, machine-actionable, digital record of an individual’s formal and informal learning and employment that is constructed as a W3C VC (or equivalent) that can be combined with other digital records useful in supporting an individual’s education, employment, and supportive services (IEEE LTSC, Rec. Practices LER Ecosystem).

LERs power more equitable hiring by enabling de-biasing and empowering individuals to better understand all their achievements, not just degrees. An LER strategy enables all systems to run on the same fuel, skills. HR systems, recruiting, career navigation, credentialing platforms, case management platforms, and digital wallets are just a few of the systems that use individuals’ career records. Following a standard will supercharge how well they can work together and open up new ways to help match people to work, learning, and resources. This infrastructure can clear away untold hours of data entry for learners and administrators.

Workgroups and organizations across the U.S. and abroad aim to standardize, promote, and support implementation for LERs and related technologies in response to the flaws in today’s inequitable and inefficient workforce development practices.

What is the Lab’s role?

The Lab works closely with a number of non-profit organizations, employers, standards organizations, and higher education institutions to capture the latest advances, convene and push the community forward, and organize insights for our partners.

   

Ecosystem Definitions

Defining key characteristics and functions of an LER ecosystem

Below are key concepts and words we’re using and seeing across the LER space to vision and structure this new ecosystem.

Learning and Employment Record

An open standards-based, machine-actionable, digital record of an individual’s formal and informal learning and employment that is ideally constructed as a W3C VC (or equivalent) that can be combined with other digital records useful in supporting an individual’s education, employment, and supportive services (IEEE LTSC, Rec. Practices LER Ecosystem).
LERs can document learning wherever it occurs, including at the workplace, through an education program/experience, or through military training.

Skills-based Hiring

The intentional prioritization of what a person can do with less reliance on proxies like college degrees or years of experience during the hiring process.

Digital Discoverability

The ability of individuals and organizations to engage in digital environments in order to find, recognize, and connect various competencies and expertise needs for the purpose of filling a professional opportunity. This includes leveraging digital tools, platforms, and networks.

Skills Visibility

Skills visibility is about making the skills a learner has acquired open, transparent, and accessible to the learner, providing agency to showcase their curated skills and competencies to employers in the marketplace. It is also about employers articulating the 21st century and technical skills needed for the job, as well as making those skills visible to prospective candidates. Skills visibility engages learners as co-creators and centers their needs and goals in its design, particularly those we know to be most harmed by the current capital-and degree-driven state.

Digital Wallet

A wallet secures and manages digital data stored in a location controlled by the wallet holder. LER digital Wallet: an app or other technology used by the holder of the LER to subscribe, curate, and control access to achievement assertions and other credentials by creating a presentation that is shared with verifying parties. (IEEE LSTC, Rec. Practices for LER)

Verification

Evaluation of whether a digital credential is an authentic and timely statement from the issuer or presenter. Compare with Validation which is making sure that the information in a digital credential is valid for the business case (Sporny, et al).

Record Portability

Easily shared or transferred; digital credentials, especially, are designed to be accessible on demand to the learner, and easily uploaded or downloaded into other systems, documents, or media. (AACRAO) Contributors to portability:
1. Self-sovereign identity by using a universal learner identifier
2. Open standards reduce the number of different formats data is exchanged in so that mappings between those standards can help automate the exchange. Advanced interoperability is called harmonization. This prevents prohibitive levels of custom integrations and ad hoc translations.
3. APIs streamline data import and export of records.
4. Open talent ecosystems. Proprietary platforms that prevent import and export cause vendor lock-in for learners and institutions and limit the value learners can get out of their records in the real world.

Services

How can we support you in bringing LERs to life in your context?

General services we offer:

  • Strategy around the digital side of degree unbundling: creating stackable, living records that support lifelong learning and economic mobility
  • Increase the perception of program quality for employers
  • Using skills and career visibility to improve learner experiences with your program offerings
  • Implementing human-centered design principles for interoperability, accessibility, equity, skills-based hiring, value to learners, and employer collaboration

System feature recommendations for:

  • Learning and Employment Records (LERs), including Comprehensive Learner Records (CLRs), and digital badges
  • Digital wallets
  • Storing and using skill/competency-related data on programs, courses, credentials etc.
  • Reducing data silos and disconnects between solutions to create sustainable systems
  • Navigating the technology vendor marketplace
  • Communicating value propositions and testing proofs of concept
  • LER readiness assessment

Increasingly, people will need a central place to manage, store, and share their learning and employment records (LERs). We're working to shape what these digital wallets look like.

Any provider of education or training, including employers, can issue LERs to individuals who can then store records in digital wallets for later use. Opportunity seekers can curate relevant records and send prepared packages as part of an application process. Download the Digital Credential Wallet comparison chart linked below to learn more about the crucial design principles we’re working to develop for education and training providers when procuring a wallet that enables your learners to become visible and unlock opportunities.

Featured Partners

The Lab Team

Naomi Boyer, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Digital Transformation

Colin Reynolds

Colin Reynolds
Senior Education Designer, Digital Transformation

Danielle Saunders
Consultant, DS Consulting

Matthew Aranda
Education Designer, Digital Transformation

Connect with Us

Related Ecosystem Projects We're Working On

Two projects highlighting our work in the LER space

Experience You Building LERs with AI

“Through Experience You, in partnership with Education Design Lab, the U.S. Chamber Foundation will work with leaders in the AI and LER space to identify the current capabilities of technology and bridge gaps to ensure the workforce of tomorrow can be a reality in today’s talent marketplace.”

Through the T3 Innovation Network, Education Design Lab–a national nonprofit reinventing the (l)earner journey in a skills-based economy–and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation–the nonprofit affiliate of the world’s largest business association–have partnered to support the growth of Learning and Employment Records (LERs) through the Experience You project. The T3 Network, made up of employers and business associations, educators, technology vendors, government agencies and others, is facilitating the digital transformation of the talent marketplace by engaging in projects that (1) make all learning count, (2) enable competencies and skills to be used like currency in the labor market, and (3) empower learners and workers with data they can use to advance their career and education journeys. LERs hold the promise of being able to make this vision a reality. LERs have matured from an exciting idea about how, through technology, all learning can count, and how employment experiences can better be documented and shared, to now a growing ecosystem of rich research, development, prototyping, and testing.

Experience You has significant potential implications for individual learners and those skilled through alternative routes (STARS), workers and employers; government agencies; postsecondary education and workforce development providers; nonprofits; human resources professionals; data standards organizations; technology vendors, and others. More recent advancements in technologies, like that of artificial intelligence, coupled with emerging data standards, like those from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and others, are providing building blocks to help address this need at scale. If we can successfully generate millions of learning and employment records for workers across all industries, we may be able to narrow the skills gap and meet the current labor force and talent pipeline demand where it is. This means capturing individual experiences in machine-readable data formats, aligning skills definitions with job descriptions, and matching learners and workers to employment opportunities they are qualified for.

Learn More

Last Mile to Hire: Building Understanding

The Education Design Lab is spearheading a revolutionary three-year project aimed at pioneering skills-based hiring solutions. The project’s main objective is to foster a comprehensive understanding of the skills-based hiring process from multiple perspectives. Key collaborators in this project encompass post-secondary institutions, employers, HR tech vendors, digital wallet providers for learning and employment records (LER), data and infrastructure providers, and the job seekers themselves.

This initiative seeks to help design an end-to-end system that allows employers to smoothly incorporate alternative digital credentials (those not necessarily tied to a traditional degree) into their talent acquisition processes. This groundbreaking approach will shed light on the exact requirements and expectations of both employers and job seekers during the hiring process. A significant emphasis will be placed on the technologies and human-centered workflows essential for hiring based on verified, non-degree credentials. It will empower job seekers to present their best qualities to potential employers and, in turn, allow employers to select candidates primarily based on their skills.

By the end of the three-year timeframe, the Lab hopes to have established concrete evidence supporting the feasibility and effectiveness of the skills-based hiring system, spanning from the issuance of credentials to the advancement of workers in their careers.

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