The Top 10 LER Trends of 2024
5 Min Read

The Top 10 LER Trends of 2024

Who doesn’t like a good Top 10 list in January? To build the SmartReport I needed to dig deeply into every corner of the LER ecosystem. And I had the good fortune to interview some of the smartest people in the business. The big takeaway is that the future is bright, momentum is building, and there is a dizzying amount of innovation happening. Here are the top ten trends that my research for the 2024 LER Ecosystem SmartReport revealed.

  1. Higher education LER sophistication is growing

This first became apparent to me when I attended the Badge Summit @ CU Boulder hosted by the legendary Noah Geisel in Boulder in July. The tone of higher education attendees has shifted over the last two years from “what is digital credentialing all about?” to “here’s what I’ve learned and here are my challenges scaling.” There are now hundreds of institutions that have implemented open badge programs across the country, so naturally the sophistication of these implementations is on the rise. Here are some great examples:

  • Western Governors University is all in on LERs. I noticed Darin Hobbs email signature now reads “Vice President, Learning & Employment Records Ecosystem.”  As far as I know, that’s the first of its kind. WGU incubated the Open Skills Network and is deeply focused on skill data and how it can be embedded into LER credentials. Kymberly Lavigne-Hinkley, the Director, Learning and Employment Record Ecosystem at WGU (ok now it’s two titles!) is leading the roll out of the Achievement Wallet to their entire student body in 2024 so that every student (and alumni) will have LER data to showcase their skills and achievements. 
  • At Arizona State University the credential wallet Pocket and OB/VC issuing platform Trusted Learner Network are both coming online after multiple years in development. All ASU students will have access to these platforms in 2024 under Kate Giovacchini’s leadership. The Work+Learn team is partnering with SmartResume to lean into skills based hiring and is launching a talent marketplace built around skills-first job descriptions to connect students with on-campus job opportunities.
  • The Tennessee Board of Regents, representing thirty-seven community and technical colleges issued a RFP for CLR issuance in 2023 and selected RANDA Solutions as their core provider. They are implementing and launching CLRs at scale across these campuses and are equipping their students with both a credential wallet and a talent marketplace in 2024 and beyond.

Due to the growing sophistication of higher education institutions’ Learning and Employment Record strategies, we implemented a new bar for the logos we show on the SmartReport. Each logo shown represents an institution that will issue credentials at scale, embed this with skill data, and offer their students access to a credential wallet in 2024.

  1. Youth and Secondary educators are entering the fray

For what I believe to be the first time high school students are being issued LER credentials in pockets across the country. This is a huge development as these represent a population that historically has not been supported with data about their skills or qualifications or with tools to help them communicate their value to employers. Most of these students have a lack of work experience to lean upon when finding a job, yet clearly are developing skills that employers value in their formative years.  Exciting examples of this work include:

  • Mike Flanagan and the Mastery Transcript Consortium have spent years reimagining the traditional transcript to focus on competencies obtained rather than grades. Their core belief is that competencies are what employers want to hire, and by focusing on what students learned rather than how they perform in testing situations we can drive more equitable outcomes long term.
  • The World Organization of Scouts Movement (WOSM), the international organization that includes the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, etc. has partnered with Learning Economy Foundation to create ScoutPass, a digital wallet for Scouts to issue credentials, recognize skills, and to digitize traditional ballets so they will have access to them years after they outgrow their uniforms. According to Taylor Kendal, over 50,000 VCs were issued in a single weekend when Scout Pass was debuted. As a proud parent of a Cub Scout, it is thrilling to know my six year old son will soon enter this LER ecosystem as a learner. You can read more here.

ScoutPass, developed by Learning Economy Foundation, issued 50,000 verifiable credentials in a single weekend in its debut

  1. The Government is coming, in a good way

National, state and local governments have a major role to play in the adoption and evolution of the LER ecosystem, and they are not sitting on the sidelines. At an issuing level state governments are starting to issue transcripts and licenses in the form of Verifiable Credentials, Open Badges and LERs. In Colorado the Department of Transportation is issuing Commercial Drivers Licenses as LER credentials, and in North Dakota the Department of Information Technology is enabling high schoolers to receive a CLR version of their transcript. At the National level major government organizations are engaged in research and planning initiatives to incorporate LER technologies to solve substantial problems such as how first responders can prove their identity and credentials on disaster sites quickly and efficiently.

  1. Employers are embracing LERs, just not like you might think

The LER ecosystem yearns for employers to embrace LERs as a source of data to find and hire new employees. But the large scale of LER data that requires it hasn't arrived for that to happen at a national level. However, there is much reason for optimism as employers are embracing  verified skills data. This can be seen in how they credentials their own workforces.

Learning Experience Platforms are creating the platforms employers need to offer their employees a wide variety of just in time learning opportunities. And these LXPs are now integrating with VC/OB issuing platforms to recognize achievements with LER credentials. According to experts I spoke to, most major consulting companies are using open badges to recognize employee training and some of them are using those badges to decide what types of projects their consultants are eligible to work on. One major consulting firm (EY) even has a program that allows their employees to stack these badges together to accelerate the process of earning an MBA. This embrace of verifiable skills data is an important foundation for the future adoption of this data in hiring practices.

  1. The rise of the CLR

Multiple CLR RFPs were issued in 2023 and adoption is on the rise. This is a logical progression as competency-based education and a desire to recognize all types of learning gain steam. The SmartReport lists six new companies in the CLR Issuing Platform sub-category in 2024, meaning there are now nearly as many platforms that will help an organization issue CLRs as there are platforms that will help an organization issue Verifiable Credentials or Open Badges. Ryan Lufkin shared that Instructure is bringing a new CLR to market called Learner Passport which will help students pull in data from any institutions they attended that use the Canvas LMS to create a comprehensive profile of their learning records. (Canvas has roughly 50% market share of the US LMS space)  Similarly, Rob Groot shared that National Student Clearinghouse’s MyHub platform is launching CLR 2.0 issuing capabilities in 2024 to help students combine verifiable academic records from multiple institutions. These major entrants into the CLR space will dramatically increase the access that learners have to their academic records in LER form in the years to come.

Myhub, from National Student Clearinghouse, enables students to aggregate credentials from multiple institutions, and in 2024 they will be able to publish those as a CLR

  1. The impact of SkillsFWD

According to Dawn Karber, SkillsFWD is the first and only funders collaborative for LER work and the first funding for an end-to-end demonstration of how LERs can help people get jobs.  $8,400,000 in grants were awarded to 6 partnership collaborations to demonstrate that LERs can drive skills based and equitable hiring outcomes at a regional level. 46 total partnership collaborations applied for funding, showing an unprecedented interest in how LER data can be leveraged to drive economic outcomes for learner/earners. The application required each application to pull together a core team that consisted of employers, educators, LER tech providers, local/regional government representatives, at least one employer’s ATS provider, and learners/earners. Each application had to answer difficult questions about how skills-based hiring practices would be cultivated, how equitable outcomes would be driven, and how the demonstration would prove how LERs can connect people to opportunity. While six projects will move forward, the forty projects which were not funded all catalyzed the LER space by bringing people together to think critically about LER implementation, and I’m sure many of those projects will move forward through other means.

  1. LER Trust & quality solutions are in development

I have to give a shoutout to Andy Griebel and Keith Hackett from the iDatafy team who have long spoken about a need for centralized trust registries in the LER data ecosystem. They argue that every participant in the LER ecosystem needs to play a role in building data about which credential issuers are legitimate. In 2024 several major initiatives will start to deliver this data and will go even further to signal the quality of individual credentials themselves and the value they hold for learner/earners and employers. Dror Gurevich from the Velocity Network stressed the importance that Trust Frameworks specify the policies and standards specific to the ecosystem in terms of business, legal, and technical rules that govern the way different organizations transact with each other.  Kate Giovacchini from Arizona State University explained that TLN is working on a trust framework to establish mutually agreed upon rules for creating, managing and sharing credentials to ensure that credentials are authentic, meaningful and trustworthy.

There is an increasing focus to help end consumers (e.g. learners and employers) understand the quality of unique credentials. Melanie Booth and Suzanne Towns spoke to efforts led by the Higher Learning Commission, through their Credential Lab initiative, and via the Education Quality Outcomes Standards Organization’s new Signal of Quality, which are focused on measuring the quality of both educational providers and unique credential programs in ways which will help increase trust in LER data.

HLC has a long history of accrediting colleges and universities, and the Credential Lab will now expand this reach to evaluate the many various education providers who develop credential programs. EQOS, which is operated in partnership with the Burning Glass Institute and Jobs for the Future has assembled a large national dataset with millions of insights. EQOS has deployed a team of economists to evaluate credential quality using a novel, outcomes-based framework. Additionally, EQOS has launched a national network and research and evaluation community of practice bringing partners together to define and develop common definitions and data architecture to scale measurement and evaluation of credential quality. 

Both Melanie and Suzanne believe their resources will make it into the metadata of LER credentials to help employers make informed decisions, and to help learners evaluate which credentials are most likely to help them achieve their career goals. In a world with over a million different credentials this is a critical step in building trust in LER data.

  1. LER data standard are maturing, colliding, and evolving

I am going to do my best to not touch a nerve when writing about this trend as there were a lot of passionate perspectives about the different data standards. Each data standard has its fervent supporters and each data standard has its detractors - I happen to love them all. Here are some of my key takeaways from dozens of spirited discussions:

  • OpenBadge 3.0 and CLR 2.0 preserve many of the strengths of their previous versions while merging with the Verifiable Credential Standard. OB3s and CLR2s are in fact wrapped in a Verifiable Credential. There are conversations ongoing about whether the LER-RS standard will become a type of Verifiable Credential as well.
  • And yet the OpenBadge standard seems to have the most adoption in the United States, and the vast majority of digital credentials that can be verified (choosing my words carefully here) in the US at this time are in the OpenBadge 2.0 format. This is why the report settled on the term “LER data” to talk about all of these data standards and endeavors to show the broad range of activity across them.
  • There has also been a significant amount of progress made in coming up with metadata libraries and frameworks for the metadata contained within these data formats. Edalex’s OpenRSD standard, the Open Skills Network, and Credential Engine’s CTDL schema are all gaining traction and promise to make LER data richer and more actionable in 2024.

  1. 2024 will be the year of the LER Regional Talent Marketplace

This is not to say that it will be the first year of LER regional talent marketplaces.  SmartResume’s consortium of 25+ organizational issuers in Arkansas, the Indiana Achievement Wallet consortium, and the Alabama Talent Triad have all demonstrated that LER data can be leveraged to connect job seekers to employers. But 2024 will be the year that over a dozen new LER fueled marketplaces are launched across the country. This is a result of several factors:

  • In 2022 National Governors Association led a Skills-Driven State Community of Practice to educate state governments on the value that LER data can generate in the form of regional talent marketplaces. In the 2023 SmartReport states investing in this area were represented by state flags as most had not invested in actual technology at the time the report was published. In the 2024 SmartReport these state flags have been replaced with either the logos of specific LER regional talent marketplaces, or the logos of specific state government agencies that are currently driving the development of these marketplaces. This is truly remarkable progress in one calendar year.
  • Philanthropic ecosystem funders like and the Charles Koch Foundation have invested in state led projects for several years and some of those projects are now coming online.  
  • LER Tech Solution Developers like iQ4 and EBSCOEd that have launched one LER regional talent marketplace are now working on their second and third projects with new state/regional partners.
  • Platform solutions like SmartResume’s Talent Community product are now making it easy for organizational issuers like Junior Achievement USA, Bioscience Core Skills Institute, and the Forge Institute, to launch their own regional talent marketplaces without having to invest in proprietary technology.
No area of the SmartReport changed more year over year than state/regional talent marketplaces, with state flags replaced by actual logos of marketplaces launching in 2024
  1. LER Momentum is everywhere

In 2022 Pearson purchased Credly for $200,000,000. In 2023 Instructure purchased Parchment for $800,000,000. Will 2024 see its first billion dollar acquisition in the LER arena? That seems unlikely, but many people I talked to mentioned that large tech giants and job boards were taking a more significant interest in LERs in 2023 and expected that trend to grow in 2024.

The ecosystem itself is growing as evidenced by the fact that 60+ new logos are featured in the SmartReport this year. The entrance of youth and secondary educators and state and national government as credential issuers is a hint of what’s to come. Not only will we gain credentials from every step of an individual’s lifetime learning journey, we will also have critical licenses such as Nursing, EMT, and CDL licenses enter the LER data mix.

We also see increasing signs of LER data consumption in the 2024 SmartReport. There are more talent marketplaces consuming this data. A major background screening company is now including LER data in how they verify information. According to Etan Berstein, one of the country’s largest healthcare employers, is launching a pilot on the Velocity Network in Florida to test bringing LER data into their hiring process. And they are asking their ATS system and their HRIS to ingest this data into the platforms they use to hire and manage their employees. This represents the first time I'm aware of that LER data will flow all the way into the decision making platforms of employers' recruiting teams.

There are many reasons for optimism, but I can think of none greater than the intelligence, grit, belief, and determination of the 56 people who contributed their expertise to this research project over the last two years.  Thank you!  Here’s to a great 2024.

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