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Talent Development Leader

Digital Badges Are Gaining Steam

They are a good indicator of skills and popularity is growing—but the practice has some kinks to work out.

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Fri Sep 22 2023

Digital Badges Are Gaining Steam
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They are a good indicator of skills and popularity is growing—but the practice has some kinks to work out.

The Global Digital Badges Market Forecast to 2028 report estimates that the market for digital badges will be $200 million by 2028. To delve deeper into badging in the manufacturing industry, Workcred published Examining the Return on Investment of Manufacturing Credentials, in conjunction with the US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The research followed up on a 2018 report on manufacturing credentials.

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The Workcred research notes that both manufacturers and employees believe they are receiving training on the job; however, employers often do not capture such training other than compliance. “Employers should strongly consider developing or using more formal credentials, such as digital badges and/or microcredentials, to recognize the training they conduct,” the researchers write. They also advise companies to embed competencies in such credentials to provide more transparency in skill acquisition.

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With badging becoming more popular, government entities are also participating. The US Air Force is expanding its digital badging efforts, with the Air Education and Training Command’s (AETC) Learning Professionals and Force Development Credentials Division working to better support leaders in managing talent transitioning out of the service. The Air Force’s digital badging now includes more than 60 badges across a dozen organizations.

“Digital badges can provide leaders a way to identify knowledge, skills and abilities and make data-informed decisions on how to best develop people and manage the talent that we have,” says Jason Grove, AETC’s lead force development specialist. “Using the badges, leaders can help determine any gaps in skills and training and help inform who is best for a specific opportunity or assignment.”

For its part, the University of Phoenix issued more than 450 digital badges to participants of the university’s Inclusive Leadership Summit and Career Fair, titled “Developing a Culture of Belonging: Prioritizing Social and Emotional Well-Being.” The badges demonstrate the acquisition of inclusive leadership skills, especially those relating to managing ongoing social issues that impede performance and retention.

Meanwhile, Udemy, a skills-development market platform, has announced the release of a new badging offering alongside an integrated skills framework designed to educate employers on modern technical skills, outline curated learning paths, and provide a dashboard for employees to track their progress.

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Still, the Workcred report notes a lack of understanding about credentials and their worth, with much of the information garnered via word of mouth. While employees who earn a credential find them valuable, they state that they aren’t necessarily likely to opt for additional credentials. Further, employers indicated issues tracking credentials, which means that companies should invest in education and training on the power of credentials.

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