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Education orgs, IBM launch blockchain credentials to close skills gap

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Today, IBM announced the launch of a blockchain credentials platform for academic and professional qualifications. Currently in early development, the Learning Credential Network (LCN) hopes to streamline hiring processes with verifiable certificates from training programs and skill boot camps along with conventional degrees.

A recent IBM study found that over 120 million workers in large economies may have to retrain within three years due to AI automation. This creates a skills gap, from which initiatives like coding boot camps have arisen. They provide the skills needed for tech careers; in 2017, 15% of IBM’s hires did not have university diplomas. However, qualifications earned from these programs aren’t as recognized or supported as university degrees.

IBM, along with an education consortium of US-based institutions, hopes to solve this by supporting a diverse range of learning credentials on a blockchain platform.

The consortium consists of the National Student Clearinghouse, which verifies academic qualifications for over 3,700 institutions, Ethos Veterinary Health’s VetBloom, a learning ecosystem for veterinarians, and Central New Mexico Community College, an innovator in blockchain with over 23,500 students.

Today’s release explains that IBM’s technology enables immutably stored, verifiable credentials to be shared at the owner’s discretion. This helps both job seekers, navigating an often complex web of opportunities, and employers, who are looking for specific and authentic qualifications. With the inclusion of organizations like the Clearinghouse, trusted certificates can be provided, reducing the risk of fraud.

On the future of the LCN Alex Kaplan, global head of IBM’s Blockchain and AI for Credentials, wrote today: “The consortium is continuing its work on a minimum viable product designed to serve the broader community of learning credential issuers and users with a key focus on inter-operability and digital self-sovereignty.”

“Moving forward into 2020, the consortium’s primary goals will be scaling the network by signing on additional participants, and fine-tuning an equitable administration and governance structure,” he continued.

IBM has participated in another credentials project, Job-Creds, with blockchain identity leader Sovrin and Workday. Last month, Workday released its own blockchain qualifications platform, also for job applicants.

A more similar project to today’s is PwC’s ‘Smart Credentials’, tackling resumé fraud while offering self-sovereign identity. Deloitte, Korea’s Shinhan Bank, and US Homeland Security have also explored credentialing.