Skills badges

Digital skills badges are increasingly being used to make competence more visible. Skills badges can be used to indicate micro-credentials, for example, as well as competence acquired outside the formal education system. In recent years, skills badges have been adopted especially in vocational and higher education and in non-formal adult education. They are also used to some extent in working life and in services offered by organisations and private education providers.

Skills badges have been researched and developed both in Finland and internationally. The working group on identifying competence has been exploring ways to develop skills badges and has made the following proposals for how to define them:

  • Skill badges are a tool for identifying and describing skills acquired in different ways so that individuals can make use of them.
  • Skills badges unambiguously indicate which skills the badge has been awarded for (they are competence-based).
  • The contents of skills badges are clearly defined and described in an openly available skills description.
  • A certificate of completion of a skills badge is issued based on an individual’s application, which ensures ownership and transferability in practice.

Common principles for skills badges and ensuring their quality

In its interim report, the working group on identifying competence proposes a set of principles for skills badges and for ensuring their quality. The aim is to increase the credibility of skills badges and strengthen trust in the level of competence they indicate. The common principles will help individuals, employers and others who use or examine skills badges to interpret the content and level of competence they indicate.

The working group proposes the following common principles for skills badges:

  • The provision of skills badges is open to and possible for all different operators. The provision of skills badges does not require auditing or certification on the part of operators. However, the issuer of a skills badge must be a legal person.
  • Skills badges can be offered as separate entities as part of non-formal or informal learning or as part of official or formal education.
  • A skills badge must come with a description that indicates what kind of competence the holder of the badge has. The description must include at least the following:
    • The name of the badge
    • Information on who has issued the badge and who has assessed the holder’s competence
    • Competence objectives and evaluation methods
    • Date of completion and issuing of the badge, period of validity if applicable
    • How the holder’s competence can be demonstrated
  • In addition to this information, the description of the badge may also contain other information essential for indicating the existence and ensuring the usability of the holder’s competence.
  • The assessor must be familiar with the competence objectives in the description of the badge in order to assess whether they have been met.

Jenni Larjomaa, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 028, [email protected]