UMaine tapped as one of three nationwide to participate in BadgedToHire

The University of Maine is one of three higher education institutions nationwide selected to participate in a two-year micro-credentialing initiative with employer partners statewide, made possible by a grant from Lumina Foundation to Education Design Lab.

Since last September, UMaine has been one of seven colleges participating in a yearlong 21st Century Skills initiative of the Education Design Lab, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to reenvisioning the school-to-work pipeline. The university partnered with Northern Light Health and Bangor Savings Bank in the project designed to identify, recognize and match the workforce skills that college students need and employers want.

As part of the new BadgedToHire program, UMaine will work with employer partners throughout Maine and the region to evaluate the value of 21st-century skills micro-credentials as a hiring signal for career readiness, particularly for underserved learners.

“The 21st-century skills employers say they need in employees, including communication, creative problem-solving, empathy and critical thinking are difficult to quantify and assess,” says Claire Sullivan, who developed UMaine’s Engaged Black Bear digital badging initiative in 2015, and serves as the university’s coordinator of community engagement. “A badge is a way to demonstrate that an employment candidate clearly has those skills. Through intentional practice and application, they are assessed, and badges are attached to the competencies.”

In the two-year program, participating Maine employers not only will have an opportunity to provide further input into advancements in digital badging in the state, but will be involved in mentoring and incentivizing students pursuing their badging pathways. In the next two years, BadgedToHire participants also will contribute to understanding of how digital badging can impact a hiring process and whether it contributes to an employee’s success on the job.

Digital badging is a workforce development strategy identified by UMaine and the University of Maine System, and aligns with the UMS “Research and Development Plan.”

UMaine’s Engaged Black Bear initiative awards digital badges representing student accomplishments and active engagement in 18 pathways designed to take a student from participant to leader. The badges capture, recognize and promote student engagement, on campus and in the community, and validate viable workforce skills for employers.

In addition, Career Ready badges are available for University of Maine at Machias students. Last August, UMaine announced a partnership with United Technologies Center to offer a digital badging initiative to increase college access and readiness through the development of a pipeline to postsecondary education.

A news release about BadgedToHire is online.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745