September 24, 2023

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In today’s ever-tighter job market, skill is the most valuable currency. The pandemic and subsequent great resignations accelerated the demand for workers with specific qualifications, leading to a shift from traditional degree-based recruitment to processes involving greater ability and experience. At the same time, rapid developments in automation and AI are accelerating digital transformation across industries, creating a serious skills gap that could cost workers opportunities as much as companies profits .

As skill-based hiring continues to grow, many professionals are looking for digital credentials to enhance their skills and provide proof of their competence to potential employers. Not just that, these credentials are becoming a lucrative revenue stream for businesses, enabling them to open their doors and share their knowledge with a vast audience of learners. It should come as no surprise that the market size is also increasing; Not only is the market cap for digital credentials expected to reach north of $5 billion by 2032, but recent research has indicated that more than 1.7 million credentials were issued in the first half of 2022 alone, up from the first half of 2021. There is an increase of 40% from the half year.

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While many new companies are weighing the possibility of offering their own credentials, accrediting an organization as an educator requires hard work and careful planning, no matter how well-known. For this, digital credentials should be viewed as more than just a product offering. By providing credentials, a company will create a community of graduates, a network of alumni who can serve as ambassadors for the brand. But when these eager learners are ready to invest their time and resources into new skills certifications, it is up to organizations to value those credentials.

Here’s a four-step guide to making credentials meaningful to learners:

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Identify your core offering
Unless your organization is already focused on education, training and/or professional development, your value proposition to customers is likely to be different from your value proposition to learners. That said, it is somewhat similar to the process of identifying and developing a primary product.

First of all, ask yourself: What can we offer? A SaaS company, for example, may offer courses to certify expertise in its core product. Another technology company might offer certification in coding and DevOps, as those topics already align with the skills of their current employees, providing a strong foundation of knowledge for curriculum development. Meanwhile, a consulting firm may offer courses in broad skills that may be applicable to multiple industries, such as product management or the basics of SEO. All of these exist to meet the needs of a learner base looking to expand their skill sets, but are offered in a way that plays to each organization’s unique strengths.

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Next, ask, what kind of expert do I want my learners to be? Imagine someone has your company name followed by “Certified” on their resume. What does this mean for them? Brand notoriety certainly plays a role, but it’s the real meat of the course, the specific knowledge that learners gain from it, that is most important in communicating value.

This is why offering a tangible credential is so important. Effective digital credentials will include important metadata about the curriculum completed, including key assignments, skills breakdowns, and even the average salary of people holding the same credential. By clarifying ambiguities about a candidate’s breadth of expertise, recruiters can make more informed hiring decisions, and candidates can stand out from the crowd – and as learners find success, the value of your credential offering increases. Is.

Create avenues for personalization
A credential marks the end of one journey – but also the beginning of another. When learners receive a certification or badge, they want to feel as though they have reached a meaningful destination that will serve as a launchpad for the next step in their career.

One way to achieve this effect is by employing a micro-credential structure. By designing courses with multiple, micro-credential steps, offering skill-based badges that stack up to a larger certificate, you give learners the opportunity to pace themselves and find their own path to success. This structure helps learners visualize their path to career success and, in turn, fosters a deeper connection between them and your company.

Depending on the platform used for credentials, your courses may automatically become part of an existing directory. Other learning organizations and companies also put together their own directories and roundups, so it’s important to take advantage of partnerships, marketing and public relations where necessary to grow and expand the reach of learner pipelines.

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Teach “Soft Skills”
The best jobs require more than just hard technical skills. People want to grow as leaders, collaborators and creatives. By offering credentials in these “soft” skills, candidates will be able to express not only their technical expertise, but also what makes them great coworkers. Developing soft skills credential programs opens the door for companies to take advantage of the unique experiences of their employees across all departments. For example, a course on being an effective communicator might be rooted in case studies of sales teams, while the human resources department might help develop a certification in something like inclusive management.

That said, simply offering soft skills certification is not enough. When shaping credential offerings, consider a dual approach, one that accommodates both hard and soft skills, whether they’re offered as separate certifications or intertwined in the same curriculum. This way, learners can get a truly holistic experience that further enhances the value of their new credential.

Establish a strong credential brand
Branding is also an important part of making credentials meaningful to recipients, as it is the first thing a recruiter may see. When developing the look of your credentials, go with customizable, white-label digital credentials that put your brand front and center. Furthermore, they should be easily shareable. Giving learners the ability to easily share their credentials on social media or embed them on a personal website opens up a new touch point with a potential audience: every new certified learner is a customer pipeline.

That said, maintaining alumni relationships can also boost your credential brand. If possible, offer alumni discounts on new credentials or special webinars – referral discounts are also attractive, as they encourage lead generation. If most of your certified learners are localized in the same city or region, consider hosting a networking event for them.

Most importantly, building a credential brand, like building a company brand, is a long game — but with the right strategies, there’s a lot of potential for success. Strive to instill a sense of pride and accomplishment among your alumni throughout the entire learner lifecycle, from discovery to graduation and beyond.

challenges ahead

Becoming a trusted credential provider requires a deep understanding of best practices and strategies for implementing credentials. Even the most robust curriculum vitae will lose value if their associated credentials are insecure, easily fabricated and/or difficult to understand what skills they represent. Furthermore, no strategy is completely impervious to market challenges – leaders must be prepared to adapt to any challenges that come their way.

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Some obstacles to be mindful of include:

Security Loopholes: A digital credential is a valuable piece of information, and should be treated as such. Unfortunately, if these certificates are not properly protected, they can be stolen, misused, or compromised. Your credentials must provide bank-level encryption. Information Gap: Every credential should tell a story – what skill they acquired, what lesson they learned and how it can be used in the future. Without this vital data, the value of the credential diminishes, and recruiters and recruiters become more suspicious of the recipient’s qualifications. Feasibility: Credential offerings should align not only with your company’s domain of expertise, but also with the demands of the job market. Make sure you’re actually providing useful skills – otherwise, you’ll have a hard time finding a learner base.

why is it worth it

Going from a simple company to a creditworthy body can be difficult. But these skill-specific credentials are becoming more valuable in the hiring market, making them important to professionals’ growth and career development. College degrees provide a great foundation, but as digital transformation continues its march and jobs become increasingly technical, professionals of all ages and experience levels are looking to strengthen their qualifications with new, in-demand skills. are demanding to do.

With the above tips in mind, if your company has the potential to provide meaningful credit, now is the time to start building.

Written by Danny King.

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