Digital badging Part 3: Could earning digital badges help young people get a job?

Digital badging is a hot new topic, but could they help high-school students and college graduates get a job?

In other articles, we’ve explored what digital badges are and how they acknowledge academic achievements outside of the classroom, reviewed survey data depicting what students who have received digital badges think about them, looked at how digital badges could add value to college admissions assessments as they make informed decisions on whom to admit into their respective schools and discussed how digital badges could be designed to represent different levels of learning. In this article, we will look at another proposed benefit of digital badges: assisting employers with identifying and selecting future employees. In other words, could digital badges help a young person get an internship or a job?

While digital badges offer a great means to recognize academic achievements and skill developments achieved right now, they can also serve as a means to help future employers select the best employees for their company. This is one potential positive outcome proposed by those looking into implementing digital badging during out-of-school learning-based programs. This same idea is also shared by some local businesses.

As companies look to find the best talent to help their companies thrive, digital badges offer a different view into the experiences, knowledge and skills of candidates they are looking to hire. While grade point averages and ACT scores offer perspective on formal academic achievements, a digital badge can speak to learning experiences and knowledge gained around standards in specific content areas such as solar energy or water quality.

These types of badges could be obtained through rich learning experiences obtained through after-school programs like 4-H Renewable Energy Camp offered by Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development. This academic camp is a five-day residential camp exposing young people to 35 contact hours of content and hands-on activities taught by more than a dozen MSU faculty members and industry leaders. Young people learn from industry leaders, research solutions to problems and work in teams to design, test and race their own solar-powered cars. Not only are key concepts of solar energy learned, but also applied to real issues and challenges. This type of experience, represented in a solar energy badge, could be beneficial for companies looking for employees with this type of knowledge and skill set.

Badges can also be earned for leadership qualities and experiences, helping employers identify the best candidates with the skill sets that will help them and their companies be successful. It is another way to assess knowledge and talent and could be a way for students to highlight all of their attributes and abilities, not just those learned during school time.

While more research is needed around digital badging, particularly in the standardization and organization of them on a national level, they do offer a unique way to bring light to students learning, skill development and experiences outside the classroom. Highlighting those experiences could help students showcase all they bring to the table and land that perfect job.

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