Executive Summary

Amidst labor market challenges and rapid digital transformation, stakeholders in workforce development -- including county governments -- are seeking innovative approaches to facilitate more equitable and efficient hiring. One such strategy is skills-based hiring. Skills-based hiring works towards equity in employment by involving communities disproportionately excluded from the workforce and prioritizing abilities over on-paper credentials and years of experience.

Learning and Employment Records (LERs) are a new concept nationally and tool for skills-based hiring. They store verifiable digital records that can span an individual's education, training, employment, licensing and identity in a digital wallet that can be transmitted between individuals, prospective employers and education or training providers.

LERs document learning in multiple contexts -- from formal classroom education at higher education institutions to informal on-the-job training in a workplace. They can also record credentials earned through online programs or military training, as well as additional useful information like earnings. LERs have the potential to improve both hiring efficiency and equity:

  • LERs can improve hiring efficiency by assembling workforce development stakeholders through one platform. According to the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Digital Infrastructure Working Group, "LERs can seamlessly record, verify, transmit, and interpret information about learning achievements between learning institutions, businesses, and individuals."
  • LERs may improve hiring equity primarily through adherence to principles of skills-based hiring. By elevating the employability of workers without traditional education but equivalent work experience, LER systems can increase access to family-sustaining jobs for individuals who have experienced barriers to higher education. This skills-based system also accounts for increasingly common non-traditional forms of work experience, including participation in the gig economy. As a digital system, LERs can also easily conceal demographic identifiers during the hiring process, dismantling discriminatory practices that result from unconscious bias.

The National Association of Counties and National Governors Association are partnering in a national effort that seeks alignment among state and local systems for life-long learning. This initiative involves helping government leaders build their knowledge and understand how to leverage credential data, learning and employment records and skills-based training and hiring practices in cross-cutting systems advancing education and workforce development.