Verified Skills vs. Inference: The Key to Business Growth with Digital Badges

    Emerging technologies are reshaping workforce dynamics and highlighting specific skill competencies. Organisations must utilize verified skills to improve training effectiveness, identify talent and fuel business growth.
    calendar-plus-01 May 7, 2024
    user-circle Credly Team
    Learning and development leaders verifying employees' skills with digital badges

    New technologies like automation and AI are reshaping workforce dynamics. According to the latest Pearson Skills Outlook: Generative AI report, up to 46% of hours currently spent on some white-collar job tasks could be done by generative AI. This shift prompts companies to rethink their approach to hiring and employee development, emphasizing specific skill competencies over traditional metrics like degrees and work experience. As a result, many organizations are increasing investments in learning and development (L&D) initiatives and adopting skills-based hiring practices to ensure their workforce remains adaptable and competitive in the face of technological advancement

    Yet, many organizations still rely heavily on skills inference to verify an individual's skills during recruitment or skills development. This method involves making educated guesses about skills based on professional backgrounds, but it has limitations.


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    Nearly 90% of global executives are planning to upskill or reskill employees.


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    73% of employers are adopting skills-based hiring in 2023, up from 56% in 2022. 

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    85%-97% of professionals rely on intuition or a mental synthesis of information as a primary assessment method. 



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    78% of job candidates admitted to or would consider misrepresenting themselves during the hiring process.

    To overcome the limitations of skill inference, employers can turn to a richer and more accurate information source: verified skills. 

    Skills Inference vs. Verified Skills

    Verified skills are competencies that are explicitly validated with evidence or assessments and are typically represented by certifications or completed training programs. Compared to assessing skills through inference, verified skills offer several advantages:


    Skills Inference

    Verified Skills

    Source of Data

    Typically, indirect information from users’ activity, behavior or data that is available online.

    Directly obtained and verified through certifications, qualifications or assessments.


    Can sometimes be inaccurate or incomplete due to subjective assumptions or limited data. Generally considered accurate and reliable, as they are verified through standardized methods.


    People often exaggerate or misrepresent their skills, especially during the hiring process. More trustworthy as they are validated through objective channels.


    May lack context or depth, focusing on surface-level information. Often provides detailed information about proficiency and experience.
    Use Cases Useful for informal settings, initial screening or casual interactions. May provide a cost-effective early filter for hiring. Essential for formal purposes like job applications, academic qualifications or team assignments.

    Validation Process

    Difficult to validate. It’s possible to confirm the possession of certain skills based on activity, interactions and behaviors — but only to some extent. Easy to validate. Involves formal evaluation, testing or verification procedures.


    Subject to changes based on the individual’s online activity and updates in algorithms. Remains consistent and can be updated as new certifications or qualifications are obtained.


    Validating Skills with Digital Credentials

    Digital credentials are tangible representations of an individual’s competencies and skills, enabling companies to easily identify and work with verified skills.

    During a skills-based hiring process, for example, digital badges provide a way to prioritize credible, verified skills. Hiring managers should look for credentials that include the following features:

    • Open standards: Digital credentials that adhere to standards like the Open Badges specification ensure compatibility across a broad range of learning products and services for consistent and efficient verification.
    • Metadata: Digital credentials that contain metadata provide details about acquired skills, criteria met and issuance dates, offering comprehensive insights into a credential holder's qualifications.
    • Skill tags: Skill tags are often provided by the badge issuer and indicate the skills acquired by the badge earner. These skill tags concisely summarize the individual's proficiencies in particular areas.
    • Blockchain technology: Certain digital credentialing platforms use blockchain to ensure decentralized and tamper-proof storage, enhancing trust and integrity in the verification process.
    • Expiration date: Platforms that offer time-limited badges discourage fraudulent activity and encourage continuous learning.

    Recognize Employees' Achievements with Verifiable Badges

    Companies can also use digital credentials in their own L&D programs. When building upskilling and reskilling programs, for example, organizations can offer verifiable credentials on platforms like Credly that include metadata with rich information on acquired skills. Badges from Credly can also provide employees with recognition for their achievements and reminders for expiring badges.

    Organizations can monitor badge program engagement and acceptance rates, enabling tracking skills across the workforce using built-in analytics. Here’s how you can maximize the potential of verified skills on Credly to drive talent decisions and ultimately fuel business growth

    • Employee engagement metrics: Measures like the number of badges earned, acceptance and share rates to gain insights into employees'  commitment to professional development. Organizations can then improve the program and ensure that employees are continuously learning and developing.
    • Skill proficiency assessment: Build a skills inventory and compare it against competency frameworks, organizations can identify skill gaps and focus training programs where they will have the most impact.
    • Training effectiveness: Correlate badge issuance with performance metrics to identify which training initiatives have the most impact on skill development and the highest return on investment (ROI). [Discover real-life examples of positive business outcomes in our blog] 
    • Talent identification and mobility: Verified skills data enables organizations to identify top performers to inform talent management decisions, such as promotions and project assignments.

    The changing dynamics of the workforce necessitate a shift from the constraints of skills inference to a focus on verified skills. Organizations can unlock numerous benefits and enable business growth by prioritizing verified competencies in recruitment and investing in L&D initiatives supported by digital badges.

    Speak to our team now to learn more about the benefits of digital credentials to enhance workforce decisions based on verified skills.




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