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A better way to verify educational and employment credentials

For recruiters, the process of trying to verify an applicant’s credentials can be both time-consuming and frustrating. To help streamline and simplify the process, one EU-funded project Qualichain is using blockchain, semantics, data analytics, and gamification technologies. The result could disrupt the way we evaluate accredited educational titles and other qualifications.

Recruitment is a lengthy affair, one that starts with combing through hundreds, if not thousands, of applications and CVs, weeding out the unqualified candidates, and then shortlisting the remaining applicants.

“As if the process wasn’t challenging and time-consuming enough, there’s also a lot of variation in educational credentials”, says Panagiotis Kokkinakos, a researcher at EPU-NTUA and technical coordinator of the Qualichain project. “Instead, every country and institution uses different formats, different documentation and different databases, making it extremely difficult for recruiters to verify an applicant’s credentials”.

According to Kokkinakos, education credentials have largely resisted the pull of technology. But, through initiatives like the EU-funded project QualiChain (Decentralised Qualifications’ Verification and Management for Learner Empowerment, Education Reengineering and Public Sector Transformation), this could soon change.

“By leveraging the power of blockchain, semantics, data analytics, and gamification technologies, QualiChain aims to disrupt the way we evaluate accredited educational titles and other qualifications”, explains Kokkinakos.

A decentralised platform

At the heart of the project is the creation, piloting and evaluation of a decentralised platform for storing, sharing and verifying education and employment qualifications. “Our focus is on accessing the implications and the impact of the prescribed solution’s utilisation, whose disruptive potential lies in both the exploitation of the innovative features of the individual technologies, as well as their unique use in a new field and for providing a set of baseline services”, remarks Kokkinakos.

The platform’s core services include: awards/qualifications archiving; awards/qualifications verification; qualification portfolio management; career counselling and intelligent profiling; competency management; competency evaluation and development; and consulting and decision support.

Ongoing pilot programmes

Each of these services is currently being piloted in several real-life scenarios. For example, the lifelong learning pilot is investigating how blockchain technologies can support lifelong learners in their learning journey and in advancing their careers. As individuals reach certain milestones in their studies, they earn Smart Badges, which include data about the skills they acquired. These Smart Badges are then stored on the blockchain, ensuring the validity of the awarded accreditation and eliminating the risk of fabricated qualifications.

“As learners continue to earn these badges, they start receiving personalised recommendations about the latest job offers that match their skills”, adds Kokkinakos. “Based on the skills needed for the job market, they also receive recommendations about what to study next”.

A big step forward

Following the pilots’ initial results, the project has developed a beta version of the QualiChain platform, which is set to roll out in the first half of 2021. Furthermore, to ensure the platform’s uptake, the project is also collaborating with several leading EU initiatives, including DE4A, KRAKEN and SEAL.

“Our aim is to offer a viable, trustworthy and financially sustainable solution capable of transforming and revolutionising everything from public and private education to the labour market, policymaking, and public sector administrative procedures”, concludes Kokkinakos. “Thanks to the exceptional collaboration among the project’s partners, we are now one big step closer to doing exactly that”.

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