How digital badging can amplify employers' training, development and social impact offers


Business of all sizes and sectors are facing unparalleled disruption. Despite this, employers across the country are continuing to provide meaningful work and skills development for young people when they need it most.

The tail end of 2020 provided promising news of a vaccine and the extension of the government’s furlough scheme until the end of April. Yet this month’s renewed lockdown, the economic fallout from Brexit, and sustained disruption until a majority of the population able to receive vaccination means unemployment figures are predicted to hit 7.5% by the middle of this year. As ever, young people will be on the sharpest end.

Employers like you are doing great things

Employers like you, however, will continue to find creative means of providing opportunities for young people to gain crucial skills and experience. Here are some examples of employers in action in our pilot cities:

After the start of the pandemic and during the first lockdown, the Brighton and Plymouth Cities of Learning teams worked closely with employers from key sectors and with local schools to deliver interactive panel sessions with Year 10 students to offer them ideas about potential careers. This programme, called “Industry Insights”, enabled the students to then claim a Career Explorer badge, demonstrating their participation and knowledge gained. The remote, interactive format was proven to be a hit with students and allowed employers to connect directly with the workforce of the future, helping to dispel any myths and misunderstandings about their sector or roles.

In Brighton, Future Creators (the Cities of Learning lead for the South East) has been a successful gateway organisation for the Kickstart scheme, securing just under one hundred work placement opportunities with a range of organisations in the creative, cultural and digital sectors. Many of these small organisations have never recruited via Job Centres in the past, and welcome a unique opportunity to recruit, train and develop local young people, giving them a positive, meaningful placements at theatres, colleges, arts organisations, digital agencies and production companies. All placements will be badged, providing a digital employer reference for the employee when they complete the placement, allowing them to demonstrate their experience when looking for future work. 

Employers, such as Bafta-winning games company Triangular Pixels, have been using badging well before the Kickstart scheme began, badging their their various work experience modules. A first for the pilots, the company is looking to make a hire based on the badges that have been earned as part of that work placement. Similarly Plymouth University and City College Plymouth have also badged internship and work experience opportunities for young people.

Additionally, some employers are also issuing ‘meta badges’, which articular a package of bespoke skills training. These badges contain a variety of awards and achievements, and sometimes include other badges and formal qualifications.

This badge from Vistry Partnerships, for example, includes two City & Guilds modules, a Constructions Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, health and safety training and an element on the attitudes required for working on a Vistry building site. It’s a fantastic example of how an employer can put a stamp on its training offer for young people in a way that enables them to use it in their future job searching activity.

Digital Badges and Badge Nation

Digital badges are becoming the new standard for recognising learning and skills development. They enhance the informal and real-world learning that individuals take part in with employers by articulating the outcomes and value of that learning into a shareable digital format. 

Badge Nation is a community of issuers, including employers like yourself, who are using digital badges to enhance their offer and enable young people to make the most of their experiences. Developed out of three years' experience working on the Cities of Learninig pilot, Badge Nation is a community and a tool for innovating and amplifying the good work you already do, using a recognised digital badging standard developed by the RSA and City & Guilds. Applicable to work experience placements, apprenticeships or social value work you do in your community, badges will help you to launch a journey of engagement with the workforce of the future, and their own journey to meaningful employment. 

Badges allow all parties to get the most out of the opportunity - the young person can use the badge as a verifiable digital reference in their next move and you, the employer, can use it to demonstrate social impact data or improve the visibility of your offer and its extra features.

How does digital badging benefit my organisation?

1. Demonstrate social impact

Where it might have been difficult to do so before, badging your offer enables you to quantify and demonstrate the social impact of your training and community activity and how it impacts local employment and skills development.

2. Differentiate your offer

Badges are excellent for capturing the additional benefits of your work placement, apprenticeship or other training schemes, and for differentiating yourself from other employers.

3. Streamlined recruitment and retention

Badges reflect the diversity of an individual’s achievements outside of the education system. So, in addition to formal exam qualifications, embedding badges into your recruitment process provides a streamlined way to identify and retain employees who reflect the local community you are embedded in.

Start your badging journey with Badge Nation

Through our work at the forefront of skills development and lifelong learning, we have developed an affordable, streamlined and supported solution for employers to integrate digital badging into their core employment, training and social impact offer.

Membership costs from just £200 + VAT per year for the basic package to get you badging. 

View our brochure for details of the offer and contact [email protected] for more information.

The Cities of Learning pilots are led in the South-East by Future Creators (under Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival) and Real Ideas in the South West. 

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