Canada has a workforce development problem.
While we have one of the best credentialed adult populations on planet, we still have significant mismatches in the economy, resulting in “people without jobs, and jobs without people”. Recognizing learning that takes place outside of formal educational structures is virtually non-existent. For an individual, tracing a learning pathway from their current skills and competencies to economic opportunities (ie, jobs) is difficult if not impossible. While our country encourages immigration (targeted immigration levels are being raised to around 300,000 per year) – and yet we have over half a million immigrants in Canada who cannot work in their field because their credentials are not recognized.
The Open Recognition declaration and open badges are useful tools for workforce development, but in Canada there are noticeable and significant limitations. While there are currently over 10 million digital/open badges in existence around the world, but they are not linked to each other or to the economy in a cohesive and coherent manner, and as such recognition is haphazard, and they aren’t able to fulfill the promise of providing a passport to greater economic mobility for individuals, nor are they helping to streamline the recruiting and employee development practices for employers or guide curriculum development activities of educators and training providers.
The piece that seems to be missing, at least here in Canada, is a robust and comprehensive national skills/competency/qualification framework that would provide a mechanism for linking badges to the economy, as well as guiding the development of new badges and micro-credentialing. We believe there’s a real need to put the “voice of the customer” into the badging discussion by engaging industry/employers in creating the competency definitions that will guide development of badges in future.
Three research papers were published by the Canada West Foundation to explore these concepts: Competence is the Best Credential (April 2015) explored the need for Canada to do a better job of recognizing the things people can actually do rather than using formal education as a proxy for capability. Building Blocks (December 2015) explored the concept of modular, stackable, competency-based credentials for skilled trades, arguing that it had the potential to accelerate learning and provide greater worker mobility in a rapidly changing economy. Finally, Matchup (February 2017) presented a case for creating a comprehensive national competency framework for Canada.
Since then, the movement has built momentum, and efforts are underway to create the protocols that will govern the framework, with the belief that these protocols could be followed in an open source approach that would ultimately lead to an organic, self-populating, global, “internet of skills”. This presentation focuses on recent activities on the initiative, and invites a dialogue around these concepts.
Through an interactive process with delegates, we want to look at a number of questions:
- Is there value in creating a global protocol for the frameworks that need to inform the competencies represented by badging?
- Is there already work underway elsewhere that the Canadian initiative can link to?
- How are other jurisdictions getting the “voice of the economy” into the development of open badging, open credentialing and alternative credentialing practices?
- What are the advantages? Pitfalls? Roadblocks? Is there a “best place” (ie, industry, level, sector, type of competency, etc) to start the initiative?
The presentation will reveal the current state of developments in Canada, with specific details, recommendations and action plans that were developed during a number of forums, workshops and meetings held throughout 2017.