Designing a Responsible Universal Learning and Employment Record Ecosystem

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By Youngjin Yoo, Erman Ayday and Natalie Smolenski

Executive Summary

In today's rapidly transforming economy, finding qualified employees with necessary skills and credentials has become a major challenge for many organizations. The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the labor shortage problem, putting pressure on organizations to upskill their existing workforces, while individuals are seeking non-traditional venues to gain new skills and training to secure high-paying jobs. However, a major hurdle in accomplishing these goals is the antiquated ways in which educational institutions and employers provide records for education, training, and employment. What is needed is a universal Learning and Employment Record (LER) ecosystem that is distributed, interoperable and open, allowing individuals to collect, store, own and share self-verifying credentials that are issued and accepted by participating organizations. This requires platforms to provide privacy protection, verifiability, data portability, and scalability at the same time.

Our Approach

To address this challenge, xLab at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) conducted extensive research on the current credentialing ecosystem. We conducted a literature review and deep dive into the history of labor markets, decentralized technology, Web3, and digital data privacy and ownership. We then conducted 54 interviews with various stakeholders and technical experts, including employers, employees, policy makers, non-profit organizations, training organizations, and technology providers. Finally, we conducted a two-day design workshop at Case Western Reserve University on January 13-14, 2023. Together with 34 participants, we further dived into the specific needs of the market and brainstormed ideas for implementing a new system on a nationwide scale. We developed four specific use cases to validate the design concept of our responsible LER ecosystem. Our report demonstrates how the LER ecosystem can enhance hiring processes, increase access to opportunities, and reduce inequality through the use case scenarios we developed. We discuss challenges, opportunities, and recommendations for realizing this vision, contributing to ongoing efforts to transform the labor market.

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Sponsored by Walmart.

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