Building Workforce Partnerships with Digital Badges

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session Community College

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This interactive panel discussion brings industry experts and educators together to explore use cases for workforce digital badges. The focus will be on how digital credentials identified workforce needed skills and how the process created better partnerships. Break-out groups will then surface ideas on skills, partnerships, and badges.

Sponsored By


Susan Manning, Ed.D. is the Chief Success Strategist at Credly. In that role, Manning guides organizations through the process of designing, developing, and maintaining credential systems that are valuable to many stakeholders. A former online instructor, Manning was recognized by the Sloan Consortium with the prestigious 2013 Excellence in Online Teaching Award. She has worked with a range of academic institutions to develop competency-based programs that integrate digital credentials.
Brenda M. Perea, Director of Educational and Workforce Strategies at Credly and works on large scale implementations. She also consults for MERLOT/SkillsCommons CalState-Long Beach and DXtera in technology projects and helps grow the educational technology community through outreach and engagement. Brenda brings nearly 20 years experience in the instructional technology-design field on projects spanning academia, corporate, government and military technology initiatives. Previously she was a Project Manager for Special Grant Projects at Colorado Community College System, where she designed and developed a system-wide digital badging credential system which entails building collaboration between a consortium of colleges and workforce to identify and target workforce skills not apparent in courses, certificates & degrees supported by interoperable technology. Brenda believes it is critical to use technology to ensure post-secondary education and career training is relevant for today’s workforce while using data to better inform students, administrators, faculty & employers. She works with the international Open Recognition Alliance and IMS Global to shape the national conversation on recognizing learning where it happens, industry and business engagement in post-secondary education and workforce credentialing.

Extended Abstract

Many higher education institutions are facing the realities of regional talent shortages in healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Projections 2016-2026, the Registered Nursing (RN) workforce is expected to grow from 2.9 million in 2016 to 3.4 million in 2026, which much faster-than-average increase of 438,100 or 15%. In addition to the raw need for skilled healthcare employees, the shift toward a millennial workforce presents new challenges for employers and higher education institutions. Unlike baby boomers and Gen Xers - whose main concern was more aligned with monetary reward - millennials value opportunities to learn and grow on the job far more than previous generations.

Employers have begun to respond to these challenges and other talent management challenges by implementing digital badge programs. Employers are documenting "transferable skills" or the skills and abilities that are applicable to a variety of related jobs. The pressure continues to build to identify those individuals that have a strong ability to communicate, problem-solve, are adept at technical skills, or even those skills that lend themselves to developing strong customer-focused relationships. Digital credentials provide a way to represent the skills and achievements earned by an individual through specific projects, programs, training, on-the-job experiences and other activities. They may also be endorsed by third parties (such as international accreditation agencies) to indicate their support, or accreditation, for college or university credit equivalency. Once a digital credential has been awarded, it can be shared and used across organizational networks and beyond in ways that add tangible value to the earner's professional profile and career trajectory.

This panel brings together three different industry experts Eastern Maine Community College,  Legacy Healthcare, and American Board for Certification for Orthopedics and orthotics who are using digital credentials to address critical skills-gaps. Each organization utilizes digital badges to align training with the skills and competencies that healthcare professionals need while meeting the needs of their organization; energize their workforce to continue in their own professional development; and increase the organization's ability to manage talent associated with current and future skills in their organizations. The panel will discuss best practices for utilizing digital credentials in their internal and external training efforts, along with discussing a variety of methods digital credentials have promoted workforce engagement with their local higher education institutions.

Participants will then break out into conversational groups to discuss how to successfully incorporate digital credentials in their accredited programs and professional development learning for the purpose of meeting the needs of current industry workforce needs as well as improve student engagement.