Career Services

Badge Equates to… Being “Soft-Skills Certified”?

Article Source: 

Article Title: “With badges, colleges take a hard look at teaching soft skills” 

“Soft skills are in demand!” cries about every article assessing valued skills in the workplace, every future prediction made in fear of the takeover of AI, and many reports from NACE

Employers are looking for candidates with strong skills in critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and a number of other abilities that aren’t as formulaic or tangible as “hard skills”. “Soft skills” tend to be more difficult to measure, and therefore can be trickier to teach and to learn. 

Today’s featured article in EducationDive by Shailaja Neelakantan describes a few ways in which organizations in higher education are developing short courses to earn badges in soft skills. The article opens discussing a three-month course to earn an “Initiative Badge” – meant to prove that a student is proactive – at Northwest Vista College, and later mentions Education Design Lab’s 21st Century Badges

Neelakantan’s article from July 26th is not the first time EducationDive has discussed soft skill badges. In March, James Paterson noted in EducationDive that while certificate programs across the country have multiplied, the value of these programs can be lost in translation between educational institutions and employers. 

We’d like to ask our employers: Are “soft skills badges” something you would like to see on a candidate’s resume? What skills would you want to see evaluated? 

We’d like to ask our students: Would you be interested in spending (let’s say) a couple hours every Friday afternoon for a month to further develop your “work ethic,” “active listening,” or any other soft skills

We’d like to ask our alumni: Would you be interested in coming back to campus to earn such badges? In your experience, would proof of your competency in these areas help you with your job search? 


Thoughts from our office: As Kelly Davis mulled over Neelakantan’s article, she noticed that skills such as “resilience,” “empathy,” “creative problem-solving,” “intercultural fluency,” “tolerance to ambiguity,” and “flexibility” were often mentioned. “But they never once talk about studying abroad, or even going abroad for any reason,” she mused. “Understandably, there are many ways to internationalize a campus without spending a lot of money on sending students abroad. But most of the international higher ed world agrees that the best option is always residing in the country of interest for a period of time. Could the ability to hone in on these skills present funding competition for study abroad programs? Curious. ” 

“But what if…” her eyes widened, “You could earn the badge… abroad?” 

Look out, Menlo students, alumni, and employer partners – there may just be a few ideas in the works here… 

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