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The Technology Essential for Building a Skills-Based Talent Marketplace

May 25, 2022

Sharon Leu, Executive in Residence, Jobs for the Future
Practices & Centers

Applying for jobs can be a confusing and time-consuming process, especially when a resume is required. Candidates can submit resumes for hundreds of positions without ever being invited to interview or receiving feedback when a job seemed like a perfect fit.

Furthermore, hiring processes that rely on automated recruiting systems make landing a job even more difficult because they often screen out candidates whose resumes don’t list requisite requirements even though the candidate has years of relevant work experience and the skills necessary for the job.

Skills-based practices make pathways to careers more accessible to a wider segment of the workforce by focusing on what workers can do, not on the degrees or certifications they’ve earned. They enable the 33 million adults who attended college but did not graduate to curate their own education and employment pathways to adapt to their changing circumstances and priorities. Jobseekers are able to pursue opportunities based on demonstrated skills and verified credentials, rather than relying on connections in their personal networks or going back to school to earn college degrees.

Jobs for the Future’s new market scan focuses on a technology solution that enables this talent marketplace to transform: digital wallets, where learners and workers can store and share the artifacts of their achievements and share their skills as they pursue opportunities for advancement.

Such wallets offer learners and workers the tools they need to capture and communicate the totality of their skills and abilities. With verifiable credentials wallets, users can seamlessly blend learning from many sources and providers, across different experiences and time frames. This can help users strengthen their connections to institutions and open up markets for innovation in high-quality, modular content. Users can integrate these wallets with digital assets that attest to the skills they’ve earned over varied work-related experiences, such as assessments or military or community service. Because these wallets are built on a foundation of open standards of interoperability, learners and workers can have confidence that the records they contain are transparent and secure, and they can accurately express their skills as they pursue future opportunities.

Companies also can benefit from the availability of verifiable credentials stored in digital wallets. When jobseekers agree to share the skills data from their wallets to talent engagement platforms, companies can use this data to identify candidates from a more diverse talent pool. Additionally, they can more efficiently place candidates, including those they have traditionally overlooked, in the right positions to fulfill their hiring needs.

Ensuring that all the different systems holding, receiving, and sending the information are interoperable is key to making this all work. Learners and workers are likely to own and use multiple devices and will likely be issued credentials for different types of digital wallet applications from different schools, employers, and government agencies, with each wallet containing multiple types of credentials. An interoperable ecosystem will give individuals the flexibility to move their credentials between different wallets and share understandable and verifiable information with an array of employers, educational institutions, training providers, and others.

To support these learners and workers, JFFLabs, in collaboration with the W3C Verifiable Credentials for Education Task Force, will be hosting a series of interoperability plugfests to demonstrate true multivendor, multiplatform interoperability. These plugfests will allow providers of verifiable credentials wallets to demonstrate that learners can store and move their credentials in a variety of wallets.

Through these plugfests, we hope to encourage the development of a large and active marketplace of technology, tools, and infrastructure that support learning and employment records.

The first plugfest will take place in June 2022 at Horizons. We encourage you to follow our progress throughout the year as vendors demonstrate how their products can be used to give learners and workers the flexibility to pursue any opportunity and start to close longstanding inequities in our economy.

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