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Part of Western Governors University

March 19, 2021

Future of Higher Education

Infrastructure for the Future of Learning and Work

Man in slacks and tie climing an illustrated stairway

By WGU Team

The U.S. education and workforce sectors are facing a skills crisis. Too many people graduate from college without the skills employers are looking for, and the NY Times reports that up to 30 million Americans with valuable skills and experience would earn 70% more, but for lack of  a degree.

WGU believes that part of the solution is providing affordable, student-centered degree programs so that anyone can finish their degree. But moving toward a skill-based future in which individuals can advance based on their knowledge and capabilities, not just their academic credentials, is equally important. The missing piece in the skill-based future: technology. Educators and employers need a system to understand people’s earned skills and learning no matter where or when that knowledge was gained.

That system is the Learning and Employment Record (LER), a digital, learner-owned record that uses a shared, skills-based language to demonstrate a person’s earned knowledge and abilities. LER systems are often based on blockchain or other technologies that can give individuals ownership and control of their records, while allowing employers and education providers to write verified credentials to those records that can be universally read and understood. LER technology took a massive step forward in 2020 as a cross-sector group of innovators including academic institutions, employers, technology companies, and government agencies came together to build pilot projects to demonstrate the feasibility of these systems.

On March 24, 2021, WGU President Scott Pulsipher joins Andy Trainor, VP of Walmart Learning; Amy Wright, Managing Partner of Talent & Transformation at IBM; and David Langdon, Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce in a panel discussion at ACE2021 entitled “The Infrastructure to Enable the Future of Learning and Work.” They will address recent LER pilot projects, how LER technology can influence structural inequity, and how higher education institutions can participate in the development of this student-centered tech tool.

WHAT: ACE2021, The American Council on Education’s Annual Meeting

WHEN: March 22-24, 2021

WHERE: Virtual format

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