Giving Compass' Take:

· According to EdSurge, Education Design Lab will be conducting a two-year study into the effectiveness of “microcredentials", or soft-skill badges, at securing employment for students from marginalized backgrounds.

· How are these microcredentials awarded? Have they been helpful for students so far? What else can be done to help students from marginalized communities find employment?

· Read more about the importance of developing soft skills for securing employment in the future.

To install and repair HVAC systems, workers need specific technical abilities, such as reading blueprints and manipulating tools. These are readily taught in technical and vocational programs at community colleges.

But keeping customers happy while updating their air conditioning units also requires a more abstract quality: empathy.

That’s the kind of deeply human attribute employers say they’re looking for in job candidates as companies try to adapt to modern changes in technology and business strategy. To help colleges teach the character traits and interpersonal skills that companies crave, nonprofit Education Design Lab has worked since 2013 to create curriculum and assessments that culminate in students earning digital badges intended to attract hiring managers.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit announced the start of a two-year research project to study how effective these “microcredentials” actually are in helping students from marginalized backgrounds secure employment. Supported by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, the BadgedToHire project will expand skills-training pilot programs at the University of Maine, San Jose State University and Central New Mexico Community College.

Because employer buy-in is essential to the success of such badges, each institution has worked with regional players such as Jaynes Corporation and national companies like Enterprise Holdings to learn exactly what skills they should incorporate into academic courses and career-preparation programs.

Read the full article about soft skill badges by Rebecca Koenig at EdSurge.