As well as being VYD’s Ops Manager I work as a careers adviser. A common worry the young people I work with have is how to ‘prove’ the work experience or volunteering they’ve done and how to get a reference, either because their previous supervisor no longer works there or they don’t have their contact details. Young people who have moved home several times have often lost important documents- including their exam certificates. They may not know they can request a copy of their personal learning record and may need some support with that. For those already struggling it can start to become a problem causing barriers to getting into work or further training.

Here’s how digital badges help

A digital badge is a visual representation that showcases the achievements, learning, and skills a person has developed. Visual badges have a long history and can act as a huge motivator to keep progressing. I had an armful of badges when I was a Girl Guide and loved looking at the different pictures on them! You can write a digital badge for anything but they are validated to ensure standards and skills are communicated consistently across the different levels. When you create a badge you say what the person has done to earn it and include the skills they have demonstrated. Currently, VYD has two badges in our collection, our Inclusive Sports Leader is November’s badge of the month and our Identity Creation, Design, and Sloganeering badge is ready to be issued next time we run our Zonal project.

The real beauty of badges though, is not just the motivation they can give to learners, but how easy they make it to verify what they’ve done. Once I’ve issued a badge to an earner they just need to accept it. After that they can share it on social media, by email or add it to a website. Employers can easily check the earning criteria by clicking on the link and they can verify it was actually issued to that person and when. Better still digital badges can help in a job or candidate search as they verify a person has demonstrated that skill.

How can you get started?

VYD is part of Badge Nation, a collective of employers, organisations, schools and colleges committed to valuing the skills and experience people develop outside of formal education and removing barriers to progression. I’ll be honest the first badge I wrote took some time but the staff at Badge Nation supported me and they have lots of helpful videos talking you through it. Badge two was far easier and I feel like a pro now! Our next badge is being planned and we’re looking forward to issuing many more over the years. If this has inspired you to create your own, you can find out more and sign up here. 

Fiona Langdon

VYD Operations Manager, November 2022.