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Education Design Lab announces #TeeUpTheSkills cohort of employers and college partners to test effectiveness of digital credentials

Yearlong design and hiring challenge aims to help historically underserved students demonstrate 21st century skills to access better career pathways

WASHINGTON, DC, September 26, 2018– Education Design Lab (the Lab), a national non-profit leader in the design and implementation of new learning models, announced today that it has accepted seven institutions, each with at least one employer partner, into the first, highly selective #TeeUpTheSkills cohort. 

The cohort institutions serve 175,000 students in total. Most of the institutions serve a majority percentage of historically underserved populations, including a significant number of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, active duty military, veterans and rurally-based students.

The #TeeUpTheSkills Cohort:
Alamo Colleges District (Employer Partner: San Antonio Works)
American Public University System (Employer Partner: MVM, Inc.)
Central New Mexico Community College (Employer Partner: TLC Plumbing, Jaynes Corporation)
Langston University (Employer Partner: ONEOK)
University at Albany- State University of New York (Employer Partner: Startup NY, Branch VFX)
University of Maine (Employer Partner: Bangor Savings Bank, Northern Light Health)

This groundbreaking #TeeUpTheSkills initiative is the first of its kind to bring schools and employers together to understand how 21st Century Skills digital badges can close the skills gap and improve hiring practices, particularly for historically underserved learners. Most of the institutions in the cohort serve a majority percentage of underserved populations, including a significant number of African American, Latino, Native American, active duty military and veterans, and rurally-based students. The Lab will work closely with the employer partners, ranging from Fortune 500s to start-up collaboratives. The teams will identify the most in-demand 21st century skills for the entry-level jobs they need to fill and then offer the Lab’s 21st Century Skills digital badges to a pilot group of students at each institution. “Our employer advisory boards have continued to share the need for credentialing technical and 21st century skills,” said Denise Ojeda Industry Liaison at Central New Mexico Community College.

“Micro-credentials have gained a lot of traction quickly,” said Kathleen deLaski, founder and president of the Education Design Lab. “But to fulfill the promise that they will help students articulate key hire-ability skills and make them digitally visible to employers, we need hiring managers to give us clearer “market signals” to validate these as credentials. We are very excited that these employers see enough promise to jumpstart this translation process.” 

Participating employers have agreed to look at the resume of any student who earns the 21st century skill badges, so learning providers can learn how to better prepare and equip all students with the skills and credentials they need to be digitally “discoverable” by these and other employers.

Asa Stone, Presidential Fellow of Micro-Credentialing at Central New Mexico Community College sees the promise: “How do we understand and translate skills that students have already acquired through life? The adversity faced by our students of color, budgeting restraints, being a single mom, etc. are all grounds where students are developing these transferable skills.” Luke Dowden, Chief Online Learning Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor at Alamo Colleges District agrees, “ultimately it gives both our students and our employers partners the confidence that when a student transitions into the workforce they have the skills they need to meet the employers business needs.”

This initiative is launched in partnership with Credly and Checkster, ed-tech platform and assessment partners who are providing services pro-bono. #TeeUpTheSkills pilots will run during the 2018-2019 academic year.

TeeUp refers to the “T shaped worker,” the concept that successful career climbers need to master technical skills, but perhaps more importantly, they need horizontal, 21st century skills as they move up the career ladder to help them collaborate, problem solve, communicate and build empathy and leadership competencies. The Lab will be sharing “T-profiles” for different job pathways and other learnings from this project through its Innovator Network. Sign up to join here. 

– Learn more about #TeeUpTheSkills here.

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