How competency certificates are adapting to the digital world



Hiring teams are relying more and more on automated systems such as Application Tracking Systems (ATS) to identify those potential candidates. This does not come without drawbacks though.

With the rapid advances in technology, the business world is quickly changing and is forced to adapt to cater for global customers and new market need. We saw a rise on online learning platforms proposing various courses covering the latest technologies in IT such as machine learning, data science, blockchain and other DevOps related topics. Recruiters are having a hard time finding the right candidates due to the global skill shortage and need to make sure that selected candidates have the right competencies to fit the job. Independently of the candidate’s competencies related to the posted job, an ATS optimized resume will probably get the attention of hiring teams earlier in the process.


Someone without the required qualifications could easily fake the information in their resume and this might even go unnoticed

As the hiring team will most probably skip verification with the institutions to keep the recruitment process cost-effective. For businesses hiring from freelances marketplaces, formal competency certifications are often skipped in favour of customers reviews. If a freelancer has been rated 5 out of 5 stars, it generally translates to a job been done with enough quality to satisfy the customer’s need. This simple project-based rating system on freelancer’s market proved to be an amazingly effective and rapid way of getting freelancers with the right competencies. As more and more students and professionals are moving to online classes, online educational institutions and MOOCS offer digital competency certificates making its paper equivalent disappearing slowly.


While digital certificates can be instantly generated and delivered, does it make it safer and verifiable?

Having a digital document to be verifiable is not a new concept. In fact, one of the technologies enabling digital verification, PKI (public key infrastructure), has been around for the last 20 years and has been serving websites since a while, creating trust between service providers and customers all around the world. In the context of competency certification, PKI could be used by a provider to sign the delivered document and even encrypt it if needed. It also allows for integrity verification to make sure that the document has not been tampered along the way. Websites like securedesigning.com can be used to verify digitally signed documents.


While PKI can be implemented with open-source tools and servers, the reality is far more complex than that and required careful planning. Solutions can vary from in-house to PKIaaS cloud solutions.

Most MOOCs do not even go that far, they often provide a simple verification link enabling verification through their own websites. The document verification usually depends on their services availability as compared to PKI where the document contains all valid proof and can be verified without been connected to the MOOC servers.


DIGITAL CREDENTIAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES


Several digital credential management services now exist on the Internet proposing issuing, managing, tracking, and verifying credentials. It is important to note that some of those services are centralized, which means that if their servers are down, verification can no longer be done.

To be more resilient and tamper-resistant, digital credential management services are now issuing credentials on public decentralized blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. The educational institutions must make sure to clearly indicate their blockchain accounts on their websites so that it can be verified. Digital credentials data are not stored as such on a blockchain but rather the hash – like a digital fingerprint – are stored. A Transaction on blockchain usually has a cost, so depending on the blockchain, issuing a digital credential will cost one or multiple transactions. Storing information in a blockchain instead of traditional servers does have some advantages such as decentralization, mentioned earlier. In simple terms, decentralization allows a system to run without depending on a single or small group of components in the system - one server down will not bring down the whole system. The other feature is having a database that is tamper-resistant, modification of data been so hard that it is often referred to as tamper-proof. This is an important feature that is highly requested in educational and health sector where they are dealing with sensitive and critical data.


While traditional certificates and credentials are still the preferred method, digital certificates and credential systems are growing fast, proposing several features, tailored for the different sectors. While technology is making sharing and verifying the documents extremely easy, issuers also have a big role to play in terms of integrity and transparency. The system may be resilient, decentralized, and tamper-proof, but it cannot prevent providers from issuing documents that does not match real competencies. Automated evaluation systems are more and more used to reduce human interaction throughout the whole process and limiting those issues.


Learn about TIiQu's digital credentials tracking skills-growth and skills certification using blockchain-based credentialing


References

- "The Rise Of Online Learning - Forbes." 02 May. 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ilkerkoksal/2020/05/02/the-rise-of-online-learning/.

- "THE GLOBAL SKILLS SHORTAGE - SHRM." https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/documents/shrm%20skills%20gap%202019.pdf.

- "Applicant Tracking Systems - Jobscan." https://www.jobscan.co/applicant-tracking-systems.

- "Study: More Students Are Enrolling in Online Courses ...." 11 Jan. 2018, https://www.usnews.com/higher-education/online-education/articles/2018-01-11/study-more-students-are-enrolling-in-online-courses.

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_key_infrastructure

- https://www.securedsigning.com/products/signature-verification-service

- https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2019/10/10/deploying-pki/

- https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/digital-signatures-and-certificates-8186cd15-e7ac-4a16-8597-22bd163e8e96

- https://www.g2.com/categories/digital-credential-management

- https://www.blockcerts.org/guide/quick-start.html

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