The Digital Credential Ecosystem

Understanding the systems and structures that can be used to solve the talent gap.

Digital Credential Ecosystem

Today, almost anything can be credentialed, as evidenced by the 967,734 and counting unique credentials1 in the U.S. alone. Over $1.9 trillion dollars are spent on yearly education and training expenditures2 in the U.S. to develop the skills and talent required by today’s workforce. Capturing the skills developed as a result of these investments is paramount in closing the skills gap and getting the right talent into the right jobs for our economy to grow.
Unique credentials
Trillion Dollars

Blockchain technology is now being added to digital credentials to make them verifiable in real time.

The digitization of credentials was accelerated in 2011 when the Mozilla Foundation developed an open technical standard called Open Badges “to create a common system for the issuance, collection, and display of digital badges on multiple instructional sites.” 1  The Open Badges standard outlines how information about accomplishments can be packaged and embedded into a portable image file.  That portability was designed to get the verification of learning accomplishments into the hands of the learner.

1EdTech, the leading education standards organization, built on the success of the Open Badges standard by releasing the Comprehensive Learner Record standard. “The CLR standard is the new generation for secure and verifiable learning and employment record supporting all nature of academic and workplace recognition and achievements including courses, competencies and skills and employer-based achievements and milestones,” says the 1EdTech website.  Much like an electronic health record, a CLR grows over time with an individual as they continue to learn and build skills through their lifetime. CLRs issued by institutions can be aggregated by individuals and seamlessly combined using technologies like digital credential wallets.

Learning and Employment Records (LERs) are similar to Comprehensive Learning Records but expand to include the traditional work history and details found on traditional resumes.  SmartResume enables individuals to store Open Badges and CLRs and to combine those digital assets with self attested information to form a comprehensive overview of your knowledge, skills, abilities, accomplishments, and career ambitions.

Blockchain technology is now being added to digital credentials to make them verifiable in real time.  When the verifiable credentials are issued, key details of that credential and who earned it are stored on blockchain ledgers, creating an immutable record that can be verified by third parties.  Digital credential wallets, and technologies like SmartResume, put the power of that verification in the hands of individuals, by giving them control over who is able to confirm and verify their credentials.  This capability forms the foundation of a more trusted set of information that job seekers and employees can make accessible to employers.

The organization HR Open Standards is currently working on a new resume data standard which will unlock the tremendous benefits of digital credentials in hiring ecosystems.  This data standard will allow job boards to ingest more information on a job seeker’s qualifications in verifiable form, and allow that information to be transmitted to applicant tracking systems which are relied upon by 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies to organize their talent acquisition pipelines.  According to a joint study done by Accenture and the Harvard Business School, 27 million U.S. workers are “hidden” from employers and excluded from opportunities in advancement because these automated recruiting systems aren’t able to reward learning or experience that hasn’t been credentialed by traditional institutions such as 4 year post-secondary degree programs.  The emergence of digital credentials and the data standards outlined here hold the potential to transform how human resource technology can identify competencies and lay a new groundwork for a more equitable skills based hiring ecosystem which will enable employers to more efficiently fill open positions.

If you would like to learn more about the digital credential ecosystem, and its enormous potential to drive positive social and economic outcomes for all Americans, please email

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