Giving value to badges. An effort of introducing Badges to the Belgian labor market.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal end of January 2012 Philipp Schmidt, co-founder of P2P University, now working at MIT Media Lab, said: “When the first software developer gets a job from Google with a badge from Mozilla, the flood doors are going to open.”
This is now almost 5 years ago and we can raise the question to what extent badges are keeping up to their potential promise for the labor market. In what way the concerns expressed in that 2012 article are still relevant. And what issues still remain to solve to get the future badge ecosystem more mature and ready for a more widespread adoption into the labor market.
This presentation starts from our own experiences at Selor in trying to introduce badges and the open badges standard to the Belgian labor market.
Selor, is a Belgian governmental organization responsible for the recruitment of federal civil servants. We screen about 100.000 applicants on an annual basis.
The first time we heard about Open Badges was during an event of the European Association of Test Publishers almost 3 years ago. Because the Open Badges Standard was potentially addressing and offering a solution for some of the challenges we were facing, we decided to dive in deeper. This resulted in issuing our first badges at Selor beginning 2015.
A year later we launched a more broader local Belgian Open Badges initiative labeled ‘Be Badges’. It consisted of trying to convince other Belgian organizations (gov and non-gov) to start issuing badges and to create a network around this concept (via promotion, marketing, events, meetups, etc..). We also launched our own website (http://www.bebadges.be) that can be used by any organization to issue and manage their badges and by any earner to collect and store their badges.
We now have gathered about 60 organizations who started using the website as an issuer: Belgian universities, other public employment services, training centers, interim agencies, coding schools, private companies, ..
In this presentation we will explain the challenges for the labor market we are trying to address with badges. And the social innovation goals of empowering jobseekers & employees, stimulating lifelong learning , solving talent mismatch and enhancing employment and talent mobility that we and our Be Badges network are trying to achieve. But also the difficulties and problems we have experienced and are still experiencing.
We will also present a clear use case of our own issued Selor-badges in which we started to disrupt existing assessment models by sharing test results and certified competencies of candidates. Other parties are accepting and giving real value to these badges in their assessment (and other) procedures (e.g. to avoid unnecessary re-testing).
To conclude we would like to cast a critical eye on the current state of both our own Be Badges project as the overall Open Badges Ecosystem from a labor market point of view. Some important issues that are on the list for the 2.0 specification of the Standard are discussed in perspective of specific Belgian labor market needs. E.g. Localization , issues concerning identity authentication, endorsements of badgeClasses & assertions and the possibility of linking with external frameworks like e.g. ESCO.
We share our thoughts on the ideas of badges as ‘verifiable claims’, open signatures as a more generalistic layer on top of Open Badges & the potential of public ledgers and blockchain technology as possible solutions for some of the issues that remain.