New partnership offers colleges soft skills credentials for their students

  • Two much-talked about concepts in higher education are coming together in an agreement that joins a organization offering assessments for “21st century skills” with an ed-tech firm that specializes in credentials.
  • Education Design Lab, a nonprofit that uses design-thinking concepts to assess the soft skills that some employers say college graduates are missing, reported it is partnering with the Credly, which provides a platform for workforce skills credentials. Credly says its working with 12,000 institutions. George Mason University in Virginia is one of the institutions that worked with Education Design Lab to develop a blended program to teach students soft skills. The nonprofit piloted the program with a number of institutions to test their methods of assessing, recognizing and badging these abilities.
  • Under the arrangement, certain colleges will become authorized issuers of the lab’s workforce-relevant skills badges. Skills such initiative, collaboration, creative problem solving, critical thinking, intercultural fluency, empathy, oral communication and resilience will be assessed and credentials will be offered to those meeting the criteria.

    Dive Insight:

    Multiple surveys have shown that employers are seeking new college graduates who don’t only come with expertise in their fields but also soft skills, including adaptability and time and organizational management skills. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey showed that 77% of global CEOs believe that skills gaps are limiting their companies’ growth, and often, Credily reported, because employers can’t find these skills in potential workers — or can’t judge them. The ed-tech firm said a growing number of institutions have turned to digital credentials to have assessments of the skills in terms “they can understand and trust.”

    Kathleen deLaski, the lab’s founder, said that the next step for the partnership is to bring the credentials to scale, working with an even wider network of institutions and employers.