Through #TeeUpTheSkills, we set out to find answers to the question everyone in digital badging is trying to figure out: do badges have market value for employers? Can digital badges level the playing field for underserved and non-networked learners in the hiring process?
We started by learning all that we can about employers’ existing hiring practices. We know the badge can shine in the interview process, where employers can ask how the candidate developed a skill. The problem is those who can benefit most from the digital badge’s proposition are also typically the ones that often struggle to get to the interview stage in the first place. Employers want candidates with 21st century skills, but the traditional resume does not allow for all students to fully tell their story of what they know and are capable of doing, beyond technical skills. Digital badges offer students a way to demonstrate 21st century skills, such as initiative and resilience, that they have developed informally through their lived experiences as first generation students or single parent learners who have learned by necessity to master time management and persistence.
In San Antonio, TX, #TeeUpTheSkills partner Alamo Colleges Online (with support from SA Works) invited a host of area employers to a December convening led by the Lab to introduce our 21st Century Skills Badges. Employers from the following local companies participated: Valero Energy, H.E.B., Accenture Federal, CPS Energy and Caterpillar.
We journey mapped the hiring process—illuminating the possible places where the digital badges could be leveraged to benefit job-seeking students and employers.
As part of our “Future Proof” series, we’re covering the future of work landscape and the tools, pathways, and trends for designing educational programs that equip learners for an evolving workforce—past issues covered skills mapping and 21st century skills curriculum mapping as key tools. In this “Future Proof” spotlight, the Lab’s education designer Isaac Agbeshie-Noye provides a primer on upskilling, a human capital trend, and shares examples in practice and lessons learned to date from our upskilling initiative in San Antonio, Texas.
COVID-19 has thrown communities across the whole world into chaos and uncertainty. As colleges and universities nationwide grapple with this unfolding reality, we want to highlight resources that may help respond to the heightened needs of a population especially vulnerable at this time—single mother learners. 89% of single mother college students in the US have low incomes ( COVID-19 will disproportionately impact low-income communities), many work in low-paying service industry jobs that may soon disappear in the current economic downturn, and school and childcare closures may add to their time poverty and force them to make even tougher decisions.
In support of our Single Moms Success Design Challenge partners, we’ve compiled a short list of immediate relief resources that may help institutional leaders better support single parent learners and other high-need students during this especially difficult period.
A year ago, the Lab had just released The Learner Revolution, a whitepaper sharing learnings from five years of work with 125+ institutions on how higher ed leaders must position their institutions to improve learner outcomes, support learners’ economic mobility, and ultimately thrive in a rapidly changing landscape of learning options. Fast forward, and today COVID-19 has accelerated the forces necessitating these changes, most acutely impacting those students—like low-income learners, parent learners, first gen students, and others from historically underserved and underrepresented groups—who were already in need of a redesign of higher ed to enable their success.
This spring, educators quickly pivoted to deliver online learning, and now with semesters wrapping up, they are turning their attention to the summer and fall terms. As schools face potential plunges in enrollment and major decisions about operations, budgets, and student experience, they confront a crucial question: how can they keep learners engaged? Drawing on insights from the Lab’s work, as well as our team’s experience building learner engagement in online environments, we created an actionable framework to help schools retain and support learners through this crisis.