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SHRM Aids Launch of Interactive LER Ecosystem Map for Educators and Employers

The dynamic map of LER ecosystem outlines for stakeholders skills-based systems roles so they can work together to make progress.




ALEXANDRIA, Va. —  Today, SHRM, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and a group of eight leading stakeholders in education, workforce development and government announced the launch of an interactive LER Ecosystem Map, designed to help individuals access career opportunities and help employers hire and promote talent based on skills and experience. Learning and Employment Records (LERs) are data-driven, digital records that capture all the skills people possess, whether they've acquired them through education, workforce training or professional and life experiences. The leading stakeholders are working together to help employers find qualified workers and help workers find quality job opportunities with LERs and skills-based practices. This intentional collaboration will help ensure this new technology is available and applicable to all communities and learners.

 
"Evolving talent management strategies for workplace demands, increasing career pathway access, and expanding equitable learning is critical," said Wendi Safstrom, president of the SHRM Foundation. "Tools like the interactive LER Ecosystem Map will help HR departments source and recruit individuals to meet the needs of the skills-based economy."

Developing the ecosystem map has been a key priority for the group of stakeholders. With support from Walmart, the steering committee of stakeholders developed the digital LER Ecosystem Map so users can see the key players in the LER ecosystem and find ways to partner. LERs are a critical tool for making skills-based hiring a reality and this ecosystem map will make it easier for stakeholders to work together and create more career pathways for individuals across the nation. The Ecosystem will help accelerate the equitable adoption of digital records to establish a more equal playing field where all individuals can access quality education and training as well as quality jobs.

"At a time when we still have four million open jobs, we need innovative solutions that address our workforce challenges now, and tools that expand opportunities for all, into the future," says Cheryl Oldham, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation senior vice president. "Not only do we need to give employers the ability to better articulate what skills they need to find the right talent, we need to empower learners and workers with the ability to show what they know and can do — this LER Ecosystem Map will help us do that."

LERs are critical to skills-based talent recruitment and upskilling support because they capture data at the skill-level; whereas a paper resume or job descriptions do not and require a manual process that often is expensive, time-consuming, and suboptimal for hiring managers to find the talent they seek quickly. The records can also be designed to be verifiable, which builds trust and reduces the likelihood of fraud. If they are based on open standards, earners are empowered to decide what data they want to share when applying for education and job opportunities.

"Walmart.org has been investing in moving to a skills-based system for over ten years," said Julie Gehrki, Vice President at the Walmart Foundation. "Our end goal is creating more hiring and advancement opportunities for all. We believe digital records are vital to giving people pathways to do and earn more, especially frontline employees. People controlling data about their own work and life experience gives them the power to use that data to build a better future. That could mean determining eligibility for benefits or applying for jobs. It gives them a way to show the skills they have acquired and choose which skills to share, without data that may trigger biases."

This ecosystem map helps address one of the key challenges: a lack of collaborative focus on addressing barriers to adoption — like the need to engage a wider range of employers and educators in skills-based hiring and talent development. It will act as a tool for innovators — from public policy makers to large-scale employers — to understand how they can put LERs into action to better serve learners and earners and ensure that their hiring processes are seamless and create opportunities for all.
 

"The promise of a Learning and Employment Record (LER) is to enable people to progressively describe their skills and abilities and have persistent access to and control over the digital records that evidence them. To secure quality jobs, it's essential for learners and employees to demonstrate their knowledge and capabilities, irrespective of the source, modality, or method used to acquire these skills. The LER Ecosystem Map helps bring us closer to this promise by lowering the barrier to access skills digital records by fostering collaboration among key players and ultimately creating greater equitable economic advancement opportunities," said Kristina Francis, executive director, JFFLabs.

 
Developing the ecosystem map has been a key priority for the impressive group of stakeholders, which includes the Digital Credentials Consortium, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, National Association of Workforce Boards, Competency-Based Education Network, Digital Promise, Jobs For the Future, National Governors Association, SHRM, T3 Innovation Network and US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The ecosystem map was soft launched at the T3 Innovation Network's Mid-Year Meeting and is now live and accessible to all. To date, many organizations have been helping drive the adoption of LERs. Still, there are challenges to overcome for digital records to benefit learners and earners soon.

"Understanding the power of LERs to unlock opportunities for historically and systematically excluded learners is critical to transforming the future of work. Digital Promise is committed to supporting cross-sector partnerships that result in learners' and workers' economic security, agency, and well-being," said Jean-Claude Brizard, President and CEO of Digital Promise.

 
In partnership with the Steering Committee, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors has launched SkillsFWD, a new initiative on a mission to catalyze a more equitable skills-based hiring ecosystem leveraging learner employment records. SkillsFWD is the first funder collaborative of its kind and will bring the LER Ecosystem Map to life by awarding a maximum of eight grants up to $1.5 million each to demonstration teams working to solve LER adoption challenges and engage key stakeholder in the development of systems that help more learners and workers access quality education and career opportunities. For more information, including how to apply for a SkillsFWD grant, please visit http://www.SkillsFWD.org

 
Further Praise for the LER Map Ecosystem
 
"The adoption of skills-based hiring has the potential to dramatically change the workforce development landscape. The LER Ecosystem Map takes us closer to a more equitable approach in designing and developing a transformational tool for employers and learners," said Melanie Anderson, Executive Vice President of the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB). "Local workforce development boards across the country understand the unique challenges and opportunities facing their respective communities and NAWB is pleased to be part of a collaborative process built on trust and transparency."

"Today's skills-based economy requires a new approach to how we design, experience, and measure learning over a lifetime – and LERs are an important tool to empower workers and provide employers crucial data," said Charla Long, President of the Competency-Based Education Network. "The LER Ecosystem Map is a groundbreaking resource for the states, employers, institutions, and agencies who are creating new skill- and competency-based systems across the country." 

"Understanding the power of LERs to unlock opportunities for historically and systematically excluded learners is critical to transforming the future of work. Digital Promise is committed to supporting cross-sector partnerships that result in learners' and workers' economic security, agency, and well-being," said Jean-Claude Brizard, President and CEO of Digital Promise.

"The LER Ecosystem Map provides a high-level view of the ecosystem of organizations;" said Krishna Rajagopal, a Professor of Physics at MIT and the DCC's leadership council chair. "It is so valuable because it describes actions that each group of stakeholders can take today, and in the future, to drive the adoption of learning and employment records in ways that increase learner agency and economic mobility. Equally important as the map itself is the fact that developing it has catalyzed the collaborative work of a group of organizations that are each a leader in aspects of the ecosystem. Collaborations along these lines will greatly accelerate the adoption of LERs in the future."

"AACRAO is pleased to collaborate in this important effort to understand, document, and influence the direction of learner focused credentials that are a part of the Learning and Employment Records ecosystem" – Melanie Gottlieb, Executive Director, AACRAO

"Governors are squarely focused on developing a future-ready talent pipeline that can expand opportunity for workers and meet states' evolving workforce needs," said Bill McBride, Executive Director of the National Governors Association. "As Governors work with education and business leaders to advance skills-based hiring, this ecosystem map can help connect employers and jobseekers – growing state economies and opening doors for workers without college degrees."

About the SHRM Foundation

Founded in 1966, the SHRM Foundation is the 501(c)(3) philanthropic arm of the world's largest HR professional society, SHRM. SHRM represents nearly 325,000 HR professionals across the globe, impacting 235 million workers and their families. The SHRM Foundation mobilizes and equips HR to lead positive social change so that all talent and workplaces can prosper and thrive. Its robust resources, meaningful partnerships and evidence-based programming educate and empower HR professionals to hire diverse talent, build inclusive workplaces, prioritize workplace mental health and wellness, develop and support the next generation of HR professionals, and help employees find purpose at work and beyond. Learn more at shrmfoundation.org.

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