XCredit Skills Validation Network

The XCredit Skills Validation Network seeks to enable equitable opportunity for individuals who are Skilled Through Alternate Routes (STARs) through diverse, proven methods of skills validation, empowering them with valuable credentials in the skills-based economy.

The mission of the network is to expand the methods, tools, and opportunities available to validate skills gained through work and life experience for individuals skilled through alternate routes (STARs), leveraging the Education Design Lab’s durable skills competency framework, the XCredit ecosystem, and the network’s collective resources and expertise.

Why Validation?

The field is coalescing around the need to shift from a broken and inequitable system of learning and work to a more equitable, visible skills-based ecosystem. Just as the old system was powered by degrees, this new system must also be powered by a trusted currency, one that learners, employers, and educational institutions alike deem valuable: Skills.

There is tremendous potential for a skills-based ecosystem to help individuals overcome these systemic barriers. In a skills-based ecosystem:

  • College is reimagined as skills-based programming, which may but does not always lead to a degree.
  • The degree is reimagined as skills-based credentials of all kinds — short-term, stackable, competency-based.
  • And hiring systems are reimagined to be skills-based as well, matching the skills needed for a role with the skills possessed by a candidate.

In other words: skills-based programming leads to skills-based credentials, which are leveraged in skills-based hiring and advancement processes.

We at the Lab believe in a skills-based ecosystem as a model to drive in a positive and more equitable direction. But in some ways, it’s still inadequate. There are vulnerabilities in this new model, when thinking about its long-term sustainability.

It’s not enough for the future system to be skills-based. It must be validated-skills-based. This means that any skills gained and credentialed, and then shared with employers, must first be validated.

Without validation woven throughout each facet of the ecosystem, there’s a lot of assumption and guesswork involved. This might look like asserting that because someone worked as a receptionist, they have effective customer service skills. These assertions haven’t been fully validated and may actually be false.

As employers and other stakeholders evaluate the trustworthiness of this new skills currency, an abundance of false assertions poses a risk to the adoption and sustainability of all skills-based efforts long-term.

Download the Skills Validation Position Paper (7 pages, PDF)

Inaugural Network Members

The Skills Validation Network's two distinct goals

+ Prototype a set of new skills validation tools and methods, aimed at empowering STARs (individuals Skilled Through Alternate Routes) with valuable labor market currency along with agency, mobility, and visibility in a rapidly changing skills-based economy. They will do so by leveraging Education Design Lab’s durable skills competency framework, the XCredit ecosystem, and the Network’s collective resources and expertise.

+ Provide thought leadership, to help drive a national dialogue around the criticality, terminology, and methods of skills validation, offered by leading thinkers and doers from diverse organizations across the skills-based ecosystem.

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


We are always open to partners and collaborators in this work. If you would like to get involved, drop us a note at xcredit@eddesignlab.org.

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