Contest Seeks to Put Digital Badges to Good Use in Job Hunt

Susan Hall
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"Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!" That misquoted line from the 1948 film "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" pretty much sums up my reaction to the badges from Foursquare and other sites. But I do agree that many people have life experience that doesn't show up on a resume. Finding a way to highlight those skills for employers would be a worthy goal.


To such an end, the MacArthur Foundation is putting $2 million into a competition to create a system of badges that can go on a person's website, blog or Facebook page to highlight unique skills, The New York Times reports. The foundation's website describes the "Badges for Lifelong Learning" competition, which will culminate in March, as:

... designed to encourage individuals and organizations to create digital tools that support, identify, recognize, measure, and account for new skills, competencies, knowledge, and achievements for 21st century learners wherever and whenever learning takes place.

Badges could be awarded, for instance, for highly specialized computer knowledge, skills learned in the military, in online courses or in after-school programs at museums or libraries, the Times says. The MacArthur Foundation, best known for its "genius grants" to foster creative work, also has awarded $1 million to the Mozilla Foundation to develop standards so that the badges work on any platform.


As part of the contest, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced the "Badges for Vets" contest. According to Jonah Czerwinski, director of the VA Innovations Initiative that sponsors the new contest:

Many recently discharged veterans earned employable skills during their time in uniform. They represent high-quality training and real-life experience. We're looking for new ways for employers to easily identify veterans who have this training and this experience to fill good jobs in the private sector.

Up to three $25,000 prizes will be awarded in five categories to teams that develop and deliver digital badges that best translate skills learned in the military for civilian employers. Entries in that contest are due Jan. 12.

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