The My Skills project is investigating how to move the certification of vocational education forwards from its current paper-based model to a system that also uses official digital certificates in a reliable, trusted and verifiable manner, operating at a national scale over the long-term.
The current system creates a great deal of delay and administration in the employment market; both for people seeking work and employers processing applications, with paper certificates being repeatedly presented for inspection and returned. These issues become even more pressing where certification of specialist or safety training or background checks are required and the implications for legal liability. With so many other aspects of our lives now being conducted digitally it makes sense to explore how certification of learning can adopt digital approaches and the benefits that this might bring.
We are working with our industry partners (APPII. And EdTech Horizons Ltd.) to apply established digital encryption technologies to create and manage the digital certificates. These technologies will be tested with a national awarding body: The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to determine how best to enhance its existing paper certificate system to include digital versions.
Two core aims:
The first is to create an ‘end-to-end’ proof of concept white paper showing how digital certificates can be created, managed and used. The practical work of the project will enable the evaluation of the technical, legal, and cultural issues involved and provide a blueprint for a national level service in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. Test groups of staff and students at City of Glasgow College will be involved in exploring the practical issues involved in adopting digital certification of learning together with our industry partners and the SQA.
The second aim is to explore how access to a personal digital lifelong learning digital portfolio might be developed from commonly available free cloud services (Google in our case) and combined with digital certificates of learning. This approach gives the learner complete control over their own learning assets and who they share them with while they are at the College. After leaving College, learners retain control over their own portfolio to use and further develop as is needed over their lifelong learning career.
This combination of digital certificates and a personal portfolio of evidence of learning bring a number of important benefits:
- The hassle of moving paper certificates around is removed
- Verification of learning is immediate and trusted (via a direct link to the awarding body) removing doubt about the veracity of an individual’s qualification assertions and the consequent risks involved
- Customised online CVs can be quickly created to tell potential employers more about a candidate’s relevant skills for a particular vacancy
- A common employer complaint is that qualifications tell them little about what a candidate has learned and their skills. The move to digital makes it possible to have micro-certificates for each unit of learning in a course that can be linked to examples of the learning and skills a candidate has developed from their portfolio. This can give an employer a much more rounded view of the candidate. It also enables applicants to construct more accurate and relevant CVs showing how their skills fit the job role
- Employee onboarding can be speeded up
- More accurate placement of employees in roles leading to less turnover
- Speed up the job search and recruitment process in the vocational sector with more positive outcomes
City of Glasgow College (https://www.cityofglasgowcollege.ac.uk/) – Lead partner
APPII (https://appii.io/) – digital certificate encryption, management and access
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (https://www.sqa.org.uk/) – a national awarding body that issues hundreds of thousands of paper certificates every year to learners
EdTech Horizons Ltd – an independent consultancy specialising in the use of technology to enhance learning and assessment, providing evaluation support to the project.
Project Funding and Support
The project is funded by the Ufi, a charity that promotes the use of technology to deliver and improve adult vocational education in the UK (https://www.ufi.co.uk/strategy)