Tag: Open Badges (page 1 of 8)

Oh great, another skills passport

I’ve spent the last 12 years working in the ecosystem around Open Badges, which provides an alternative accreditation system. It didn’t come out of thin air, and before this there was plenty of work around e-portfolios. Next up we’ve got Verifiable Credentials which allow for lots of things, including endorsement.

Frustratingly, over the past couple of decades, people several steps removed from actual jobs markets and education systems decide to weigh in. Inevitably, they use the metaphor closest to hand, which tends to be a ‘passport’.

This not only is the wrong metaphor, but it diverts money and attention from fixing some of the real issues in the system. I’d suggest that these are at least threefold:

  1. Taxonomic straightjackets — we don’t tend to recognise everything that makes for a valuable employee or colleague. There are behaviours that are valuable, as well esoteric knowledge and skills that don’t fit into pre-defined taxonomies.
  2. Hiring is broken — this deserves a whole other blog post, but current systems tend to automate the very things that need a human touch. Hence, applicants spend an inordinate amount of time searching for and applying for jobs, while algorithms reject people who would be a perfectly good fit.
  3. References are outdated — one organisation I used to work for stopped taking references because a) in most jurisdictions, it’s against the law to make negative comments, and b) they’re generally unreliable. Yet the whole system is predicated on them. Endorsements and recommendations based on network relationships are much more valuable.

I could go on, and probably will over at my personal blog. Or perhaps the Australian government can give me $9.1 million to point them in the right direction.

The passport system is intended to help workers advertise their full range of qualifications, micro-credentials, prior learning, workplace experience and general capabilities.

Businesses, unions, tertiary institutions and students are among those the federal government says will be consulted about the initiative.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the goal was to make it easier for employers to find highly-qualified staff and for workers to have their qualifications recognised.

“We want to make it easier for more workers in more industries to adapt and adopt new technology and to grab the opportunities on offer in the defining decade ahead of us,” Chalmers said.

Source: National Skills Passport: Government aims to connect workers and employers | SBS News

If your heart isn’t it, it’s probably because there’s no heart anywhere in the process

One thing I’ve learned spending over a decade thinking about Open Badges and alternative credentials is that hiring is broken. Although there are mitigations and workarounds — some of which I’ve implemented when hiring a team and helping others do so — the whole thing is a dumpster fire.

This article by Paul Fuhr discusses the horror show that is job hunting in the age of platforms such as Indeed. He does a great job of showing how automated and dehumanising the whole hiring process is. Platforms are more focused on user engagement than genuinely aiding job seekers; applicants are reduced to mere data points.

Not only that, but the lack of human-centricity to the whole thing fails to accommodate those with non-linear careers while simultaneously trivialising the job search process. Unsurprisingly, he’s calling for root-and-branch reform of the  current job market. I can’t help but think that badges and alternative credentials can make the whole thing more transparent and fair, moving away from automated metrics.

I’ve applied for (quite literally) thousands of jobs. Very quickly, I went from being surgically precise about job applications to taking a shotgun-blast approach to it all, spraying applications out in every direction. I’ve clicked the “Submit” button on countless career sites. I’ve created four different versions of my resume. I’ve spent more time on LinkedIn than any other site, too, though I suspect Reddit is happy to have some server bandwidth back.

Searching for a steady job is a disheartening and depressingly tedious affair, but it doesn’t have to be. If I’m qualified for anything at the moment, though, it’s being qualified to weigh in on the contemporary job-search experience. I know what it is, what it isn’t, what it pretends to be, why it no longer works, and what needs to change. And thanks to a year-plus of trying to find consistent work, it’s no longer about connecting me with the job of my dreams — it’s about connecting me with my dream of simply having a job.


Machine learning, AI, automation, yadda yadda yadda. I get it. I understand the “why” of automating the hiring process; I even think it can be a helpful (jargon alert) “arrow in the quiver” for HR. I can’t even imagine a single HR specialist being tasked to locate the right candidate from a huge field of applicants for one job, let alone fifteen jobs at once. That’s like finding a needle in a stack of needles. It’d be paralyzing.

That said, hiring managers and job seekers have arrived at a truly dangerous intersection. Employers have allowed automation to creep in and govern so much of the HR process that it threatens to ignore the whole…well, you know, human part of it all. And some companies insist on doubling-down on this façade; I’ve visited a shocking number of sites that pretend to have an actual human person ready to chat with you (certainly not a bot!), as if they’re impossibly waiting 24/7 to answer your questions.

We’re at a maddeningly mindless moment when it comes to finding employment, but it’s one that could be repaired with some maddeningly simple ideas. For starters, just bring back some humans. Robots can parse your past and distill you down into data, but they’ll never make a genuine connection or get a sense of you are. Also, simplicity works both ways: it benefits the applicant as much as an HR specialist.

Source: Why Resumes Are Dead & How Indeed.com Keeps Killing the Job Market | Paul Fuhr

Microcast #98 — Endorsement

The introduction to some thoughts on endorsement using Open Badges and Verifiable Credentials within networks of trust.

Show notes

Image: Unsplash