Report

Skills in US – The T-profile and Badges

In the Fall of 2018, the Education Design Lab (Lab), launched Tee Up the Skills with seven two- and four-year colleges and universities across the U.S. The year-long pilot paired each school with at least one employer partner to understand how the Lab’s 21st Century Skills Digital Badges could improve students’ career readiness and serve as valuable signals for entry-level hiring. This paper outlines key milestones, tools and learnings from one year of testing with the Tee Up cohort.


The hunger for new ways to measure the readiness of college graduates in their applicant pools made luring employers to the table to participate in Tee Up The Skills relatively easy. Armed with text-heavy job descriptions for one or more of their hard-to-fill positions, they engaged in a skills mapping exercise to extract and visualize the most important 21st century and technical skills for those jobs. Called a T-profile, based on the concept of the T-shaped
learner, this simple yet powerful tool became the calling card for Tee Up The Skills and a mechanism around which employers, educators and learners could finally unite.

The T-profile produced a treasure trove of data and insights on existing gaps between employers, institutional learning providers and learners.
1. Employers recognized they were not explicit enough in their job descriptions; they often lacked mention of the 21st century skills that employers craved
2. Educators, particularly those not often in contact with employers, gained a better understanding of the value of
aligning what they are teaching with workforce needs
3. Learners were able to see, at a glance, precisely what employers wanted

We intended the T-profile to be a tool to help us identify which of the Lab’s Badges colleges might offer. The T could very well stand for “transparency.” Meaning “readily understood, easily detected, obvious,” transparency, especially as it relates to 21st century skills, is a missing variable in what is becoming an increasingly nuanced matching process between prospective employee and hiring manager. Employers should clearly articulate the 21st century (and technical) skills they need for individual roles, as they did in filling out the T-profile, so that both prospective employees (in this case college students) are aware of the skills they need and education providers can create more opportunities for learners to intentionally acquire the skills needed. It is a collective effort, but it starts with employers. It is an investment of time we believe can be instrumental in solving the skills gap.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Tee Up the Skills: learnings from one year of micro-credentialing with institutions, learners and employers

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