New Mexico College Advances Transformation to Career Pathways

New blockchain technology enables the exchange of skills-based digital records that facilitate more efficient pathways from ‘learning to earning.’

Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) researched and published a report on the various independent efforts underway to build a model for a national Learner and Employment Records (LER) infrastructure. Using open architecture blockchain technology, LER replaces outdated systems for learners and employers. By connecting education and employment journeys, education providers, employers, and government agencies can exchange personal information in a safe, interoperable environment.

A successful LER system enables individuals to carry their education and skills with them as they move from school to career. Interoperability allows information to be transferred, linked, and aggregated from different education entities, employers, and other sources.

The benefits of comprehensive new system

Blockchain supports independent verification of an individual’s credentials and significantly more detail than a resume. Students and employees can include their skill sets and certifications in addition to degrees. “At CNM we know how important it is to be able to match the educational goals of individuals with career pathways that will lead to quality life outcomes,” said CNM President Tracy Hartzler.

For those committed to equity and diversity, people who are not able to complete a four-year degree but can come complete certification courses will be able to use the LER system to promote their credentials and improve their job prospects.

“Doing away with a system where a degree is the only way to signal your skills will open a much more diverse pipeline of workers,” said Bill Halverson, Senior Technology Advisor for CNM Ingenuity, an arm of CNM that provides accelerated skills training to support workforce needs.

Partners include IBM, who developed their own blockchain platform that manages the exchange of skills-based credentials; SOLID, a company that helps military members verify their skills post-service to find employment; and Public Consulting Group, the leader of North Dakota’s statewide effort to deploying K–12 blockchain learner records.

The report, “A National Learning and Employment Record Infrastructure: Progress Towards a Skills Economy,” is intended to be informational but also to equip state officials, CIOs, and edtech providers with what they need to begin developing their own LER systems.

“LER infrastructure development is at a critical juncture in the United States, requiring the engagement of state and national leadership to help craft policy, convene key stakeholder groups, and designate funding to advance the adoption of data standards and LER systems designed for universal access and interoperability,” said Halverson. “We think this report is an important step toward the adoption of a national LER infrastructure to meet the demands of the new workforce and a dynamically changing economy.”