ASAE Launches Challenge to Recognize Power of Digital Credentials

With a new competition and the help of other organizations, ASAE is asking the public to submit proposals on how to use digital credentials to help close the skills gap.

Through a new crowdsourced competition, ASAE is asking organizations and the public to come up with creative ways to use digital credentialing to close the workforce skills gap.

Recently, employers have had difficulty identifying and hiring qualified candidates to fill the 5.4 million open jobs in the United States, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. ASAE’s challenge—hosted along with the American Council on Education, digital credential platform Credly, and the Lumina Foundation—invites groups to submit proposals for ways to better promote, evaluate, and use digital credentials in assessing job candidates and helping with hiring decisions.

“Education institutions, associations, and employers all play critical roles in assessing and certifying skills and abilities,” Credly CEO Jonathan Finkelstein said in a press release. “Digital credentials convert these verified competencies into a portable currency, which unlocks opportunities and illuminates career pathways. Currencies of value require widespread adoption, and we’re eager to see what new ideas this challenge inspires.”

About 22 percent of Americans have earned a credential—including those who have only a high school education or less—and associations provided 10 percent of those credentials, the second-largest source after the government. Participants in the competition now can help make sure employers are recognizing and validating these credentials.

“Associations play a critical role in training and validating skills—from wood flooring to financial planning—that provide individuals with the skills to succeed across a wide range of industries,” ASAE Chief Learning Officer Rhonda M. Payne, CAE, said in the statement. “We’re excited to provide an opportunity for association leaders to showcase and scale creative ways to use digital credentials and certifications, and test critical assumptions about their social and economic impact.”

Digital credentials can offer an alternative to traditional education; demonstrate a job applicant’s knowledge, skills, and specialization; and can easily be included in a resume, online networking tool, or a job application. But employers still need a better way to recognize the value of an applicant’s accreditations.

Ultimately, this competition aims to close the skills gap and help fill open positions by encouraging employers to judge competency and skills based on credentials not usually reflected on a transcript, diploma, or even a resume.

“Embracing multiple pathways and offering a more coherent system that recognizes skills demonstrated in both academic and industry contexts is critical to ensuring that our students attain the credentials they need to be successful in today’s workplace,” ACE President Molly Corbett Broad said in the release. “Using digital credentials to surface skills learned in the classroom and through industry experience can help bridge the gap between education and the world of work. We are eager to bring to light innovative models and ideas that help learners get credit for meaningful knowledge and abilities observed across learning and professional environments.”

The challenge is open now through December 30, and the winner will be awarded up to $10,000 and a speaking slot at ASAE’s 2017 Great Ideas Conference.


Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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