WASHINGTON, March 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Education Design Lab, a national nonprofit and leader in the design, implementation, and scaling of new learning models for higher education and the future of work, today announced the launch of a new micro-credentialing platform, called vsbl, designed to help colleges and universities embed soft-skills badges directly into their curriculum. Built after a rigorous, year-long pilot with a diverse group of more than twenty partner institutions and organizations, including Cape Cod Community College and New Orleans-based HBCU Dillard University, the vsbl platform enables colleges to embed digital badges and micro-credentials into coursework to help better measure and signal these skills to employers.
"Institutions have long struggled to find ways to help students and alumni demonstrate the relevance and full breadth of their experiences to prospective employers—in a language they can understand," said Don Fraser, chief program officer at Education Design Lab. "This work is about helping colleges to empower students to demonstrate their mastery of the critical 21st century skills needed to thrive in today's complex workplace."
Employers continue to report a lack of soft skills—increasingly referred to as 21st Century Skills skills—among significant numbers of job applicants. A recent survey found that 86% of human resources professionals believe that these skills are more important than technical skills in long-term organizational success. An analysis from labor market analytics firm Emsi found that 84% of current job postings, across all industries, explicitly mention at least one of six common soft skills. At the same time, LinkedIn's 2019 Global Talent Trends report found that more than half (57%) of talent professionals were unsure of how to accurately assess them.
Education Design Lab's suite of credentials assess for eight of the most in-demand soft skills sought after by employers for entry-level and management track positions, including resilience, creative problem-solving, collaboration and oral communication. Students can bolster their transcripts and work portfolios by earning micro-credentials that signal proficiency in these critical skills to employers.
"At a time when employers are hiring with an increasing need for a technical skill set as well as critical workplace skills, having an undergraduate degree doesn't always showcase the versatility and agility that graduates learn. Our graduates are applying for—and also being found—using digital career search tools that too often don't recognize the types of skills that are included in their education," said Jennifer Servi-Roberts, Associate Vice President of Business and Applied Technologies at Johnston Community College. "This initiative is helping us to make the skills and experiences of our graduates fully visible—and more discoverable—to employers."
To earn each micro-credential, students participate in short-form, scenario-based learning experiences and assessments—called "proving grounds"—designed with dynamic feedback from employers. A series of these short courses challenges learners to practice, apply and demonstrate mastery of real-world skills needed in the workplace. Available in both an online and hybrid format, vsbl enables colleges and universities to integrate ready-made, rigorous short course content directly into their LMS and, in turn, issue micro-credentials to students using a network of badging providers such as Credly and Badgr.
The organization underwent an extensive research and development process that drew on insights from its work with a diverse cross-section of institutions, spanning major public universities, community colleges, and HBCUs, employers and the learners they serve, to understand the most effective applications of soft skills credentialing.
About Education Design Lab: Education Design Lab is a national nonprofit that designs, tests, and implements unique higher education models and credentials that address the rapidly changing economy and emerging technology opportunities. The Lab demonstrates where technology, rigor and design can improve opportunity for historically underserved learners to maximize their potential in the higher education system.
Education Design Lab works across disciplines and alongside schools, employers, entrepreneurs, government, foundations, nonprofits and innovators. The organization has significant experience managing national and local learning cohorts, working with organizations such as The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, Walmart, American Council on Education and the ECMC Foundation. Learn more: www.eddesignlab.org.