Digital Credentials: The Future of Student Employability

Discover how you can improve learner employability and engagement through advanced digital credentialing, with examples from our work with Middlesex University.
Digital credentials are continuing to increase in popularity year-by-year, and it’s clear why organisations are moving their awards online: they can massively impact on the performance of learners. Research by IBM has quantified this impact through their research, showing that digital awards led to a 694% increase in the number of students passing assessments.

That’s why we’re working with educational institutions across the UK, such as Middlesex University and the University of Winchester, to revolutionise their digital credentialing processes - it’s all part of our mission to empower and enable students to make the most out of their self-development journey during their academic career and beyond. Through our digital credentialing platform, institutions are able to efficiently design, issue and manage digital certificates their cohorts, all of which are stored on their student's Lifelong Learning Ledgers.
In this article, we will go through exactly how we are doing this through discussing four of the ways these institutions have been able to improve their student’s development:
Alongside taking a look at what Middlesex’ employability team has been able to achieve since issuing digital credentials to their students from our platform.
To see more about our work with Middlesex University, see our whitepaper:
Boosting Employability with Microcredentials.
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1. Enabling wider opportunities for student development

With an increasing proportion of the labour market being equipped with university-level education, reaching 42% in 2017,  a degree certificate no longer guarantees employability. Students need to be provided more opportunities to develop the skills that they need for their desired career path, but are currently missing.
“81% of employers value employability skills above other factors – including degree or class of degree - so it is important to develop your employability skills while you are at University”
- Middlesex University Employability Centre, 2014
Digital credentialing platforms ensure the effective creation and management of these wider opportunities. Because of this, organisations can effectively and autonomously create and implement these wider opportunities that play a vital role in their learners’ employability. The utility of this is seen in our work with Middlesex University, who have been able to quickly and effectively implement wider learning opportunities through our platform.
These awards are giving their students a way to attain tangible evidence of the intangible skills that they have developed, and differentiate themselves in a competitive job market.

2. Ensuring Lifelong Learning

But this wider development must not stop at the end of a student’s academic journey; in order to procure sustainable and successful careers, students must now continue to develop their skills into the future, throughout what some are now calling the ‘60-year curriculum’.
“The employee of the future typically will have a new job every five years, probably for 60 to 80 years, and probably every one of those will require skills you did not learn in college”
- Huntington D. Lambert, former dean of the Harvard Division of Continuing Education
This is why we have given all students access to a Lifelong Learning Ledger - their personal profile wherein all of a student's achievements are automatically aggregated and stored securely and indefinitely. This means that, instead of their academic achievements being forever lost and forgotten in the labyrinth of their student email inbox, learners can now enjoy the benefits of their hard-earned achievements throughout their entire careers.
Because of this, Middlesex are not only improving their students’ graduate outcomes; they are ensuring that their employability continues long after they graduate.
“It’s not just about box ticking and numbers...there’s a genuine care that each student should reach their aspirations. VerifyEd got that very quickly.”
- Alan Stuart, Director of Employability, Middlesex University

3. Surfacing student skills to employers

Following the development of the relevant skills, it is important ensure that students understand the deeper meaning of their achievements so that they can use them more effectively. Subsequently, we constantly developing new tools that transform how students can reflect on, and articulate, their skills development through automation and visualisation.

For example, after a student is awarded an achievement, our clever system crawls through the associated course page to pull out relevant skills that they have developed, and display them on their profile. From this, students can clearly see what skills they have developed through an experience, and therefore better understand its purpose and meaning, as well as identify any gaps in their developed skillset.
The other half of the equation in employability, however, is getting prospective employers to understand this development. That’s why we have designed our platform with employers in mind. Not only can students share their entire achievement history with employers through a single link, but our advanced certificates also provide a more holistic view of the makeup of an achievement, so that employers get to see the true meaning behind every hard-earned achievement.
But here’s the really cool part: we have revolutionised how employers can verify achievements through the use of. Essentially what this means is that every single student achievement, alongside the associated skills, are now instantly verifiable by any party that the student gives permission to.
If you would like to know more about how blockchain technology is revolutionising data security and verification in education, get in touch with one of our experts.
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4. Increasing student engagement and performance

One advantage of certification that is understood by institutions is their ability to act as extrinsic motivators. Because certificates are rewards that provide tangible symbols of achievement, they are ideal incentives to motivate students to participate in all types of opportunities. In fact, a recent study from IBM found that digital credentials increased the number of student enrollments by 129%, and the completion rates of courses by 226%
Certificates should, therefore, not just be seen as a way to track progress, but key components in increasing engagement. By being able to instantly create achievements that students are proud to achieve, they can be encouraged to participate in all manner of activities, from completing a study abroad opportunity, to becoming the president of the blockchain society
“Sometimes students need an incentive, and they need to see some progression, something concrete they can use not only for themselves. but for employers as well."
- Claire Yates, Unitemps Branch Manager, Middlesex University
An aspect that is often overlooked, however, is that these certificates also act as intrinsic motivators. Research shows that clear progression is the key factor in shaping positive attitudes towards work, leading to increased engagement and performance.
Boost student motivation
Tip: Award students certificates for the ‘smaller wins’, for example modules throughout a course, or even exams throughout a module. Organisations don’t just see dramatic increases in their learner’s performance, but also their mood and wellbeing!

5. Improving efficiency

From our in-depth interviews with Academic Registrars from over X universities across the UK, inefficiencies were found to be a major challenge for faculty teams suffering, hindering  their ability to meet the deadlines of the student calendar.  We found one principle, and shocking, reason why teams are struggling in this regard: they have little to no automation. 

This is why we are transforming the processes of registry teams to minimise the resource requirements of certification processes. Our success in this regard is demonstrated clearly through our work at Middlesex University, where we are estimated to have reduced:
Awards can now be designed within minutes, before being automatically issued to entire cohorts. With the burden of administration alleviated, and the associated resource inputs freed up, organisations can now dedicate their resources to more important processes, as well as the development of their student offering.
Interested to see if your institution could see the same results?
Book a free digital credentialing strategy call with one of our experts today.
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