Have you been involved in a hiring process recently? One where you had to review multiple resumes or applications. Resumes or applications that are FULL of skills claims submitted by individuals with no ability to back up that claim in any verifiable way. How does that impact your ability to make sound, timely hiring decisions? Pretty significantly is our assumption.
Degrees and other credentials awarded by accredited institutions have long been used as a proxy for quality … quality of instruction and a ‘quality stamp’ to confirm the individual holding the credential knows and understands what was taught and/or has also developed any skills taught within the program.
When you really think about this, it unfortunately doesn’t completely hold water. Anyone who has ever scraped a passing grade for a course knows that, that 50% (or whatever the passing grade threshold might be) is not a reflection of either a well developed understanding of knowledge taught or a solid competency level in a particular skill. Now, we all recognize that there are many other factors that might result in a passing grade. But the most significant is that the learner has only satisfied the MINIMUM standards or requirements. Yet, we still hire them because they have the credential.
Subject to the design of the assessment strategy for the course, it’s also possible for a learner to secure more than a passing grade but have completely no understanding or skill in a particular element of the syllabus. For example, a learner may have scored a 0 in one assessment but can make up enough ground in the other assessments, which may not even touch the same content, to score quite highly overall. Yet, we still hire them because they have the credential.
Now let’s consider the implications of this for alternative credentials. The rapidly emerging body of work in learning and development which often exists outside of the traditional academic governance model. At least with the academic governance model, we generally understand its strengths and weaknesses and with the kind of wide scale adoption that has been achieved in its use as a proxy for quality; no one hiring organization is advantaged or disadvantaged over another if degrees or traditional credentials are used to substantiate skills claims. So we still hire them because they have the credential.
But what if we could find a way to truly verify the skills claims attached to both traditional and alternative credentials? Wouldn’t that improve the quality of hiring decisions immediately?