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Education Design Lab launches XCredit Skills Validation Network

The Skills Validation Network seeks to enable equitable opportunity for individuals who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs), as opposed to a bachelor’s degree

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 19, 2023) — Education Design Lab (the Lab), a national nonprofit helping colleges and employers design equity-based education solutions toward the future of work, today announced the XCredit Skills Validation Network (SVN).

The mission

The Skills Validation Network will expand the methods, tools, and opportunities available to validate skills gained through work and life experience, leveraging the Lab’s 21st century skills competency framework, the XCredit ecosystem, and the network’s collective resources and expertise.

Why it matters

So far, the network has brought together innovators from more than 10 organizations in service of expanding opportunity and improving economic mobility for STARs, talented individuals Skilled Through Alternative Routes, as opposed to a bachelor’s degree. STARs comprise half of the U.S. workforce — and they have developed skills on the job, through military service, in community college, or through other means.

The field is coalescing around the need to shift to a more equitable, skills-based, learn-and-earn ecosystem. But it’s not enough for our future system to be skills-based. It must be VALIDATED skills-based. This means that skills gained and credentialed, and then shared with employers, must first be validated.

What is skills validation?

The process by which an assertion (“I assert that I have a skill!”) is substantiated.

  • Typically conducted by qualified third party
  • Creates trust that individual possesses a skill
  • Based on a shared understanding of meaning of a skill
  • Indicates level and context of a skill
  • Can be conducted through various methods

The Skills Validation Network will serve as a conduit to exploration and collaboration between:

  • Career navigation systems
  • Job placement and worker advancement organizations
  • Skills data sets and platforms
  • Skills wallets and ecosystems

“The current talent marketplace devalues lived experience. Scalable skills validation empowers those who have previously been unable to document their skills and showcase what they know and can do, which limits access to employment opportunities. When shared with employers, this validated, digital evidence of skills can signal to diversify and expand credible talent pools,” said Naomi Boyer, Executive Director, Digital Transformation, at the Lab.

“The future skills-based ecosystem must honor the hard-earned skills gained through experience, while also building confidence in employers who are depending on those skills for the success of their organizations. The Skills Validation Network will help us achieve both,” said Tara Laughlin, the SVN leader and Senior Education Designer at the Lab.

What’s next

Now through June 2023, the network will:

  • Collectively prototype a set of new skills validation tools and methods.
  • Provide thought leadership to drive a national discourse.

Beyond June, the SVN will begin piloting and iterating on these prototypes, working to bring the most effective to scale.

Go deeper

For more information about the XCredit Skills Visibility Network, visit

This work is made possible by the generous funding and support from and program officer Sean Murphy.

About Education Design Lab: The Lab is a nonprofit intermediary that designs, tests, and scales new models + tools with and for new majority learners that address systemic and environmental barriers to success and help to prepare learners, educators, and employers for the emerging digital skills economy. Learn more:

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