In 2013, JVS committed to serve as the catalyst to bring together San Francisco's Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF), San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), and community partners, with technical assistance from the Mozilla Foundation, to develop digital badging for youth work experience that will recognize workplace-based learning. These digital badges will measure and demonstrate competency in a variety of 21st Century skills, such as timeliness, workplace communication skills and customer service skills, acquired in internships and subsidized employment that are brokered through community based organizations, as well as SFUSD.
JVS will identify skills to be developed in workplace-based learning/internships and develop assessment tools and digital badges to assess, recognize and reinforce workplace based learning, in partnership with employers and supervisors. For example, DCYF adopted the NAF College and Career Readiness Skills as the set of skills it wanted young people to develop through its programs, and it hopes to use the Foundational, Interpersonal, and Self-Management set of skills as possible 'badging opportunities.'
Building off its deep relationships with employers, such as Walgreens, Wells Fargo, California Public Utilities Commission, and Target, it is JVS' hope that employers and the SFUSD will recognize the digital badges. During the Summer of 2014, employers will be included in the digital badging pilot program to test the concept, and JVS will reengage those employers as well as new employers in the Summer of 2015. Ideally, employers might be more inclined to hire youth interns for a permanent position if they have earned a badge demonstrating work readiness. Furthermore, SFUSD is considering recognizing digital badges toward high school credit, helping youth participants get closer to meeting graduation requirements.
JVS anticipates serving at least 200 youth and will test digital badging in current internship programs, summer and after-school, paid, internships in a variety of sectors, along with other community partners and school district programs, and will contribute staff time to support this exciting endeavor. DCYF and SFUSD will award the digital badges to ensure citywide consistency in standards. Employer partners will recognize them. JVS will work with the Mozilla Foundation to design the digital badges ecosystem.
Step 1: Create initial/phase 1 planning group (DCYF, SFUSD) (September - December 2013)
Step 2: Conduct outreach for and convene phase 2 planning group (JCYC, SFCC) (December 2013 - April 2014)
Step 3: Within the planning group, achieve the following deliverables (December 2013 - April 2014)
- Evaluate current tools for identifying and assessing 21st century skills
- Confirm participation and define role of Mozilla Foundation
- Identify skills to be developed (research existing)
- Develop assessment tools and badging ecosystem (research existing)
Step 4: Identify programs for participation for initial pilot group (March - April 2014)
Step 5: Conduct staff and worksite training (March - May 2014)
Step 6: Test pilot group 1 (May - August 2014)
Step 7: Evaluate pilot group (September - December 2014)
Step 8: Revise digital badging system (December 2014 - May 2015)
Step 9: Test pilot group 2 (May - August 2015)
Step 10: Evaluate pilot group (September - December 2015)
Step 11: Revise digital badging system (December 2015)
Work experience for youth is a critical bridge to adult employment, and a way to develop both specific occupational skills and more generic 21st Century skills, such as timeliness, appropriate workplace communication, and taking initiative. For at-risk and low-income youth, subsidized work experience and internships have been turning points as they provide exposure to different career options, an opportunity for a fresh start after struggling in school, and a way to earn wages and boost families' income. These internship programs, supported by public and private sources and administered by cities, school districts, and community based organizations, vary widely in duration, focus and quality.
Digital badging offers the opportunity to assess and recognize accomplishments, skills, or qualities learned through work experience, and in doing so, reinforces individual learning and boosts motivation for youth, while also setting standards for youth internship programs to focus more consistently and effectively on skill development. Digital badges can be earned in a variety of learning environments and give youth an opportunity to show their accomplishments, contextualized for the school and work environment.
Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) San Francisco provides work?based learning programs where academic skills are contextualized for hands-on work experience. JVS works with close to 1,000 high school and transition-aged youth each year, through close partnerships with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), specifically in secondary special education and in partnerships with continuation high schools. JVS has been a core provider and partner with San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF) since 1993. JVS created work-based, skill building learning programs to improve access and equity for underserved, underperforming demographic groups, which lead to increased academic, work, and life success for students.
JVS seeks existing tools for digital badging in youth internship and work experience; tools for assessing workplace based skill development; other communities interested in partnering; financial resources. They will continue to explore additional funding to support development of the badging system, software testing, consultation on badge and ecosystem design, as well as evaluation.
JVS can offer support and share challenges and lessons learned with other entities that are interested in offering digital badging for youth employment and develop a multi-site, national project.