LER Ecosystem Map (Learning & Employment Records)


Learning and Employment Records (LERs) are digital records of learning and experience that are linked to and may be controlled by learners and earners. LERS are proposed to include a person’s jobs and skills acquired through education, credentialing, in the workplace, and through service and life experience. The records would be verifiable and secured according to web standards, and controlled by users, who can curate and use them to pursue educational and employment opportunities as they see fit.

The drive to create an interoperable, well-governed LER ecosystem is to increase equitable access to quality education and higher paying jobs, especially for individuals who gained their skills and competencies through routes other than a four-year college degree. Giving learners and earners control over their data can empower them to use it to access opportunities; for example, to determine eligibility for benefits, to market relevant skills to apply for jobs, to choose the skills they want to share absent of data that may trigger biases.  For employers, LERs can offer predictors of performance based on data and help ensure that time spent on upskilling and reskilling of employees is responsive to workforce needs.

The LERs movement ‍is founded in the recognition that the “skillification of education and employment (progress towards recognition of more granular skills and competencies obtained through formal and informal education and work experiences, as opposed to just degrees), is already well underway.” (https://lermap.t3networkhub.org/#map-start)

While education and hiring tools and technologies, especially those focused on leveraging skills, are advancing rapidly, hiring practices in the United States still rely heavily on pdf resumes, references and other proxies. These result in an incomplete picture of candidates, can result in poor matches between talent and jobs, and can lock people into a particular vendor or platform. Without intentional steps to establish a more equitable and interoperable LER ecosystem, it is likely that new technologies will only perpetuate inequitable access to meaningful education and jobs.

LER Ecosystem Map - 2023 (Version 1) 

Launched in September 2023 by the Digital Credentials Consortium (DCC), the LER Ecosystem Map is comprised of three modules that depict strategies and actions different stakeholders can take to drive progress on LER development, issuing, use, and adoption:

  • LER Ecosystem.  The ecosystem is comprised of 10 diverse stakeholder groups:
    • Credentialing Organizations
    • LER Solution Providers
    • HR System
    • Funders
    • Governance
    • Data Standards Bodies
    • Career Navigators
    • Supporting Systems
    • Learners and Earners
    • Employers
  • Action Areas.  Four actions are recommended to further the movement:
    • Defining value propositions
    • Building employer demand
    • Gathering data on impact
    • Shifting to a skills-based system
  • Emerging Value Propositions. The initiative recommends LERs be developed in accordance with the W3C Verifiable Credentials Data Model. C-BEN’s Interoperability Principles also offer seven principles to guide key design elements for LER systems:
    • Open Standards - Data included in LERs are formatted using a standard structure, allowing for easy exchange between individuals, education, and employment.
    • Privacy And Security - Systems protect the privacy and security of individuals' data, which, in turn, builds and maintains trust in LERs.
    • Unlocking Learning Anywhere - Learning is lifelong, and quality learning can occur outside of the classroom. Interoperable LERs honor the value of all learning and offer processes for validating a wide range of learning, skills, and competencies.
    • Global Mobility - Interoperable LERs support learners' mobility by functioning in local, regional, state, national, and global talent marketplaces.
    • Universal Access - Interoperable LERs are user-centered and ensure every potential user has access to and control over a digital wallet to store, manage, and curate LERs.
    • Alignment - All stakeholders, including employers, states, and local, regional and federal agencies, are aligned, intentionally collaborating to support and ensure fidelity to interoperability principles.
    • Public And Private Partnerships Creating Public Good - A healthy marketplace is cultivated and regulated to both encourage innovation and ensure that the benefits of interoperable LERs are shared by all stakeholders.

LER Ecosystem Map - 2024 (Version 2)

Building on recommendations from a broad network of experts including the Aspen Institute, Credential Engine, and Arizona State University’s Trusted Learner Network, with funding from Walmart, the Digital Credentials Consortium issued an updated version of the LER Ecosystem Map.  The map’s initial version described the roles and work streams of stakeholders, offered recommendations for mitigating barriers to adoption, and defined economic and social value propositions. The newly released version includes new and updated features:

  • stakeholder pages with definitions, examples, quotes, and more specific work streams and action areas
  • extensive list of cataloged resources
  • more thorough guidance on technical frameworks
  • glossary of key terms cross-referenced with the T3 Innovation Networks LER resource guide.

Collaborating Organizations 

The LER Ecosystem Map is a product of many collaborating organizations committed to creating and scaling a LER ecosystem:

  • SHRM Foundation
  • C-BEN
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Digital Credentials Consortium
  • T3 Innovation Network
  • National Governors Association
  • Digital Promise
  • National Association of Workforce Boards
  • Walmart

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