In August 2107, James Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, and Marlene Seltzer, the CEO of Jobs for the Future, published a primer titled “Closing the Skills Gap.” In the primer, they argue that although nearly 11 million Americans are unemployed, 4 million jobs are sitting unfilled, demonstrating the gap between the skills that job seekers have and the skills the market needs.
In a fast-paced, ever-evolving economy, some positions always remain unfilled even in instances where some citizens are unemployed. According to Politifact.com—a fact-checking site that rates the veracity of statements—the current ratio of vacancies to jobless workers is far below average.
Meanwhile, many studies have found no correlation between inadequate employee skills and high rates of unemployment. Despite the U.S. economy and job growth being steadily on the rise, many organisations are actually finding it difficult to hire or promote skilled workers.
Today, there is not a single organisation in the world that knows with certainty the skills their employees possess or those skills that they need.
Enterprises are doing a terrible job of tracking their workers’ continuing education, online courses, and skills. This creates an environment where employees accumulate skills, and the organisation is not aware of. Without a measurement to calibrate and track each employee’s skills, organisations cannot actively utilise their staff.
In light of these challenges arising from the lack of a universal language for measuring and tracking skills, some firms have turned to the technology itself. Some have created online certification platforms. These platforms allow their users to get certified in multiple skills, receive their digital certificates and verification links. Moreover, once certified, the user can post to his/her professional profile on social media such as LinkedIn for employers to verify.
While genuinely skilled workers are available on these social media platforms, most are often muddled by fraudulent certifications as a result of centralisation challenges. Fake skills’ certifications, continuing education credentials and skill endorsements can make an organisation hire or promote a wrong candidate.
Potentials of Blockchain in tracking skills
Blockchain is an electronic ledger that records transactions in a decentralised and peer-to-peer (P2P) network. Since transactions in the chain are linked together through public key cryptographically, they are tamper-proof. Unlike other records in digital ledgers that can be modified, transactions stored on the Blockchain are immutable.
Here is how Blockchain can work to ensure transparency and auditability is achieved:
- Employers and certificate publishers validate their identities with third-party verifiers, establishing a mechanism that identifies issued skill certifications against the real world entities;
- The issued credentials are recorded on the public Blockchain guarantying immutability and transparency. The platform can also enforce GDPR and the right to be forgotten regulations, therefore meeting all the stakeholders’ expectations;
- The platform is decentralised, meaning there is no single point of failure as opposed to monolithic systems that are prone to attacks and single point of failures;
- Data recorded on Blockchain is encrypted via public key cryptography, hence only the credential holders can view and share it. This protects their right to privacy and the right to be forgotten; and
- Credentials’ sharing is as simple as sharing a badge or URL making it easier for an employer to track their workers’ credentials easily.
Use cases of Blockchain-based skills tracking
The use cases of Blockchain-based skills tracking are plenty. Here are some use cases of such a platform:
#1: An organisation wants to track the skills of its internal staff
An organisation may want to track the skills of its internal staff. In this instance, a Blockchain-based skills tracking system provides searching and tracking facilities to allow the organisation to know with certainty the true certifications of their employees. For example, if a bank wants to certify its financial advisors, its managers can search and use the platform to certify these advisors. This allows clients to verify the financial advisor’s certifications.
In a bigger scale we can apply a similar solution for an entire ecosystem of employment. The City of Barcelona is exploring implementing such a solution. Dubbed “Barcelona Activa unity,” the agengy for economic and employment development of this Spanish city is testing a blockchain the platform that certifies people looking to enter the tech sector. Through a training program, called IT Academy, the agency teach people specific tech skills that once completed are registering in the blockchain. Participants in this program receive a digital wallet with these skills certification and businesses can check them in a transparent and trusted waybusiness and technology skills allowing students and employees to receive a digital wallet with Blockchain certificates and badges for the courses they complete.
Students and employees can then share these certificates with their managers in the organisation, but can also take the certificate with them and share as verifiable evidence of their achievements. The Barcelona Activa unity platform is powered by BlockEducate.com, a Blockchain platform made by Vottun, that allows organisations to publish certificates and badges on the Blockchain.
This program if expand completely will create a new way of registering the skills of all the workers that want to register their skills into the blockchain in the City of Barcelona. This could allow the city to know better the their citizens skills in order to serve better strategic businesses and implement effective employment policies.
#2: Certification of services in utility companies
Consider a large gas utility company that regularly sends its staff to report whether a customer has reported smelling gas or requires servicing:
In most cases, certification of these services often expires after some time. It is a tedious process to keep track of certificates that are still active and those that have expired. Specially when the utilities company subcontract most of these services. A Blockchain-based system can help certify staff in a smart contract. For instance, if the certificate expires, the smart contract cannot validate the certificate anymore and notifies the responsible party. Using blockchain, this could happen regardless which database or technology used the subcontracted company. This way, customers can easily verify the validity of the certificate.
This is the case for Naturgy, a $20 Billion natural gas and utilities company based in Spain. Naturgy has over 10,000,000 energy clients worldwide with over 18,000 employees. The Company, which operates in several countries in Europe and Latin America, is implementing an innovative Blockchain solution provided by Vottun, a Blockchain-based powerhouse, to certify all its service staff.
These service staffs provide services including repairs and verification of any issues with the company’s equipment. Certification is required for each service staff to work for Naturgy. These certifications need to be renewed regularly or be deactivated.
With Vottun’s solutionBlockchain as a Solution (BAAS) technology, Naturgy provides identification and certification for all the service personal. The digital badge has a QR code on it and when scanned shows details and certification record of the service staff identity and verified qualifications.
This ensures trust and validation to clients that the employee is who he says he is and that his credentials are up to date. The information can be immediately verified with a mobile phone QR code reader against the Blockchain which is an immutable record that cannot be changed or faked. Certificates that are expired becomes disabled, and the employee will need to recertify by the organisation.
#3: Tracking of skills based on the attendance of events
A Blockchain-based platform for skills tracking can help organisations to track skills acquired by its staff as a result of attending events such as conferences and seminars. Since all the skills are posted on the Blockchain, employees get a digital badge while the enterprise utilises the information to make hiring and promotion decisions.
The increasing trends where companies use manual methods to track their employees’ skills and certifications has created an environment where workers accumulate skills, and the organisation is not aware of it. Without a measurement to calibrate and track each employee’s skills, companies cannot actively utilise their staff.
Blockchain is a secure, transparent, and sustainable solution to the problem of skills certification and tracking in the employment sector.