How Griffith University & Credly are enhancing student employability
Digital badges and micro-credentials have risen in popularity in recent years, the result of uncertainty over the future world of work and the skills required to fill jobs that don’t yet exist today.
Without clarity over future workforce needs, students researching where and what to study are looking for institutions that can provide them with “employability” skills, defined as the ability to gain and maintain employment.
Responding to growing interest in the metric, QS Intelligence Unit began publishing the annual QS Graduate Employability Rankings years ago in 2015 to offer prospective students more information about the employment prospects and career preparation provided by universities.
But on top of the quality of the education and institution, employability is also influenced by current labour market demands, and employers today are looking for graduates with less-quantifiable soft skills such as interpersonal communication, critical judgment and the ability to work in a team.
This is what digital badges can be designed to measure. Utilising the gamification method, they can be used as an indicator of a student’s “employability” through the measurement of their competencies and achievements in areas not otherwise graded in a university degree.
It’s no wonder, therefore, why digital badges have grown this popular. In a recent report, market research firm MarketsandMarkets said the value of the market would likely hit US$205.6 million by 2023, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.8 percent from US$83.3 million in 2018.
Rather than viewing the trend as a threat, innovative higher education providers are adopting the technology themselves to add a new dimension to the traditional university learning model.
The Griffith Credentials
Griffith University in Australia is one such institution. The university recently launched “Griffith Credentials”, an employability initiative created in partnership with badging firm Credly. Established in 2012, the New York-based Credly has been described as the “king of digital badging”, having administered badges for technology juggernauts like IBM, Oracle and ISACA.
According to the university, the programme was established largely in response to changing workforce needs. As we said above, employers today want their new recruits to have soft skills on top of their paper qualifications.
“Today’s labour market is dynamic with new jobs being created in emerging fields, but traditional qualifications and job titles mask the suite of skills, experience and expertise that employees can bring to these new roles,” Academic Registrar Ms Kathy Grgic says.
“Digital credentials have emerged as the solution to this workforce problem, allowing employers to ensure that potential candidates possess the relevant skills and capabilities required for a given role.”
The Griffith Credentials programme is divided into eight broad groups (see below) through which badges are awarded to both students and professionals undertaking short courses at the university to upskill.
Collectively, these badges acknowledge the students’ academic achievements, as well as their involvement and performance in extracurricular and cross-curricular activities, including work placements and volunteer experience.
The badges will be awarded to them via Credly’s Acclaim platform, and will be shareable on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
For a start, the badges have been released for the Griffith Graduates of Influence programme. According to the school, they will soon be issued for the recipients of the Griffith Academic Award for Excellence, students who have completed the BusinessPLUS and 3-Day Startup programs, and professionals who have completed Professional Learning Hub courses.
Better visibility & shareability
Lucas McBurney, a final-year Bachelor of Business Information Systems student who is among the inaugural group of badge recipients, said the badge would allow him to display his achievement to a wider audience.
“Normally, this award would be noted on my transcript; however, with Griffith Credentials I can include this achievement digitally on my LinkedIn profile or visually show it on my résumé.
“Through Griffith Credentials, I can share my accomplishments in my studies with future employers, allowing them to see exactly what I have achieved.”
Apart from improving visibility thanks to their shareability on social platforms, digital badges also help enhance employment opportunities through matching algorithms that align badged skills with live job advertisements. This means job-hungry graduates would be able to reach to a broader labour market, offering them a wider range of options for employment.
“Tertiary qualifications are a crucial prerequisite for a number of employers, but academic results alone often don’t do students justice in highlighting their broader skills, knowledge and capabilities,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Debra Henly says.
“The innovative Griffith Credentials program is designed to help our students recognise and showcase the diversity of expertise and experiences they have accumulated during their studies, whether through such activities as social clubs, work and volunteer experience, or informal learning in their community.”