Digital Credentials in Higher Education: Boosting Students' Success in Skills-Based Hiring

    Amid growing job market competition, higher education institutions must focus on skills development and verification. Explore digital credentials' vital role in skills-based hiring for students.
    calendar-plus-01 April 14, 2023
    user-circle Credly Team
    hourglass-01 5 min read
    Students discussion about interviews

    According to the World Economic Forum, by 2030, approximately 85 million jobs could remain vacant due to a scarcity of digital skills worldwide. As a result of the ongoing skills gap crisis, many organizations have embraced skills-based recruitment.

    Meanwhile, 79% of employers say skills assessments are just as or more important than other hiring criteria and revealed a willingness to consider candidates without a college degree or the minimum years of experience. As a result, students are now required to showcase their practical abilities and adapt to the evolving job market. This shift has led to a growing demand for verifiable skills, and alternative credentials as employers increasingly seek candidates with proven, job-specific competencies to bridge the existing skills gap.

    In the face of heightened competition in the job market, higher education students and institutions need to adapt to this trend by concentrating on skills development and verification. In this article, we will explore the crucial role that digital credentials can play in helping students secure employment as companies increasingly adopt skills-based hiring approaches.

    What are digital credentials? 

    Digital credentials provide verified proof of a learner’s competency and skills. They complement paper-based certificates, but because they’re online, they’re data-rich. And with the right platform, management and integration, institutions can easily create, issue and share digital credentials with their learners.

    Digital credentials are the currency of the emerging workforce, bringing a common language to knowledge, skills, and abilities regardless of whether they were learned on the job or in the classroom. Delivered as a digital badge or certificate after completing a learning course or activity, these digital credentials give students flexible ways to learn marketable skills that will help them land a job and succeed once hired. In fact, 90% of individuals that earned a digital credential agree that it helped them achieve their career goals.

    By recognizing and valuing digital credentials, higher education institutions can help students unlock skills-based hiring opportunities. Here are four ways digital credentials can help in this area:

    1.      Clear Demonstration of Soft Skills

    Digital credentials, such as badges or certificates, effectively provide concrete evidence of a student's soft skills. These credentials often come with detailed descriptions of the skills and competencies a student has demonstrated. The Acclaim platform's digital badges are particularly valuable as they contain rich metadata that clearly outlines the skills and criteria required to earn them. This information makes it easy for potential employers to identify a candidate's strengths in essential soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving. (Discover on-demand soft skills here)

    Madison College has recognized the value of digital credentials in helping their students stand out during the interview process. These credentials are verified and issued by trusted faculty members, allowing students to showcase their achievements and highlight areas where they excel. By leveraging digital credentials, students can present a compelling story highlighting their unique skills and strengths.

    You can learn more about the different approaches to validating soft skills through digital credentials in our webinar


    2.      Easy Verification

    Digital credentials can be used to validate students' achievements in a more tangible and shareable way, proving that they have mastered a skill or capability. Metadata mapping on Acclaim's platform connects the credential with what the earners can do after earning it. It also lists the requirements to earn it and why employers should care. Employers can trust that these skills have been assessed and verified by a recognized authority, ensuring that the candidate has genuinely acquired and demonstrated the specified skills.

    3.      Amplify Professional Presence

    Digital credentials can be shared and showcased on various platforms like LinkedIn, personal websites, or digital portfolios. By prominently displaying their soft skills, students can attract the attention of potential employers actively seeking candidates with those particular abilities.

    In 2013, the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) became an early adopter of digital credentialing, and their pioneering efforts have yielded positive results for students seeking job placements. The program has garnered praise from employers, who appreciate the transparency and specificity of the digital credentials and recognize a significant overlap with their own workforce needs.

    The success of the CCCS program has left a lasting impression on employers, who have taken proactive steps to seek out job candidates with CCCS credentials on LinkedIn and have even reached out directly to CCCS academic programs to fill open positions. This recognition underscores the importance of digital credentials in providing students and job seekers with marketable skills and verified evidence of their competence.

    4. Distinguish from the competition

    Possessing verifiable digital credentials for desirable skills can set a candidate apart from their competition in the job market. When many students have similar educational backgrounds and experiences, digital credentials can be the distinguishing factor that tips the balance in favor of a student with verified skills.

    As higher education institutions navigate the skills-based hiring landscape, digital credentials have emerged as an essential tool for students seeking to showcase their skills, verify their competencies, and stand out in a competitive job market.

    Unlock the Power of Digital Credentials

    Considering the development of digital credentials in today's evolving education and job market? We're here to help you on your journey. 

    Whether you're looking to enhance a traditional program with a digital credentialing platform or preparing to develop one, our Credential Mastery Assessment is here to support your journey. 

    By taking our assessment, you not only gain valuable insights into this dynamic landscape but also receive practical guidance to ensure your digital credentialing efforts are on the right track. Don't miss this opportunity to unlock the full potential of your digital credential strategy – begin your assessment now and set yourself on the path to success.

    Start Your Digital Credentialing Journey

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