As part of a concentrated effort to help veterans find jobs, the Department of Veterans Affairs is sponsoring a contest for an entrepreneur to create a digital badge system that will help veterans translate their experience for prospective employers in civilian jobs.
Digital badges have taken on an increased importance recently as more people try to move into the civilian workforce after some time away in the military, taking online classes or even volunteering and doing charity work.
Badges are envisioned as supplements to a traditional resume that have a digital link where prospective employers can determine their authenticity. The MacArthur Foundation in Chicago is leading the badges revolution. The foundation gave a $1 million grant to the Mozilla Foundation to develop a consistent standard for badges that can be used across platforms.
The VA contest winner will design badges to help translate military experience into classroom credit or work-related training, according to a press release from the VA.
“We are looking for ways to make it easy for employers to see Veterans for who they are: highly qualified individuals in any job applicant pool,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said in the release. “We want to help good jobs find Veterans and help Veterans find good jobs.”
Along with the VA, the “Badges for Vets” contest also is being sponsored by the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Energy. The contest is part of the larger MacArthur Foundation project called the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition.
The VA Innovation Initiative announced three finalists in the competition in March.
• TopCoder Inc. is an IT consulting company that developed a way to issue badges representing military experience and training to help qualify veterans for a specific assignment.
• Western Governors University has a program to award transfer credit to veterans who have earned badges for corresponding training in the military.
• The Manufacturing Institute has a plan to use badges to help veterans find jobs on its jobs and talent matching platform online.
A winner from among those three will be announced after Memorial Day, according to the release.
The contest calls for $25,000 in prizes for the winners in five categories for companies to design and deliver badges that are representative of veterans’ transferable skills from the battlefield to the cubicle.
Other industries using badge systems to help bridge people’s skillsets with potential employers include NASA, Disney and the library and manufacturing industries.