Research has highlighted gaps in provision whereby young people have difficulty describing their competencies and telling their story to employers and employers in turn struggle to identify candidates whose qualifications they can trust. More needs to be done to help employers recruit the right candidates and support young people enter into education, employment or training through better development and recognition of employability skills.
Reducing the Skills Gap is a young person led training programme that improves the development of employability skills in young people. The programme was designed by Youth Focus North East (YFNE) to meet the needs of both employers and young people. It addresses five key skills, communication, teamwork, time management, professional attitudes in the workplace and confidence, which employers cited as lacking in some young people today (North East Youth Network, 2012). City & Guilds worked with YFNE and DigitalMe to design, endorse and pilot badges that learners can achieve throughout the programme.
As part of this programme, DigitalMe developed a platform and app that enable people to capture evidence of employability and applied skills, upload that evidence to claim a badge and gain evidence-based endorsements from employers, peers or educators. This ability to demonstrate multiple validation of evidenced skills and create connections between learners and employers is a key enabler for unlocking opportunities and supporting the transition into employment.
A pilot took place with 26 unemployed young learners to trial the open badge process and to enable us to explore the effectiveness of the badges. At the end of the pilot, four focus groups took place with young learners and a group of employers who had been involved in the programme or showed an interested in the concept of open badges. DigitalMe worked closely with City & Guilds to learn lessons from this pilot and ensure that system features align with what the findings show is required.
The research showed that the concept of badges and their ability to evidence the skills that young people have, was well received by the employers. The young people found that badges gave them more confidence when applying for jobs and showing employers the skills they have. City & Guilds endorsement of the badges was also of value to both employers and the young people. The study also found that badges have not yet been fully integrated into the recruitment process and additional work needs to take place on the calibration and validation of badges.
This paper provides an overview of the platform and presents the findings from the research. It discusses whether the employers and young people believe that the badges are successful in providing a new currency for employers and unlocking opportunities for the young people.
CBI and Pearson (2015), ‘Inspiring growth:CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey.’
Glover,I., Latif,F. (2015), ‘Investigating perceptions and potential of open badges in formal higher education.’
Lucas, B., Hanson, J. (2014), ‘Learning to be employable: Practical lessons from research into developing character.’
North East Youth Network (2012), ‘Reducing the gap: a study into young people’s views in the North East on youth unemployment.’
Pearson, (2013),’Open Badges are unlocking the emerging jobs economy.’
Uk Commission for Employment and Skills (2015), Employment Skills Survey 2015: Skills in the labour market.’