Building together a recognition society

Incomplete recognition of people’s talents

Here’s a short piece on another European data set. This time it is data from the European Skills and Jobs Survey (ESJS). This week I’ve been at Open Belgium presenting our European project entitled MIRVA (Making Informal Recognition Visible and Actionable). The project is looking into new ways to recognise the skills, competencies and abilities people have. It starts out from several assumptions:

  • formal education presents bottlenecks, especially for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those without straight pathways of transition through schooling and beyond
  • over people’s lives they acquire skills, competencies and abilities, which are only partly fully recognised in their social environment, especially in the workplace
  • looking into new ways to make this acquisition visible and useful (‘actionable’) is important for the empowerment of all members of society, but also for the smooth and efficient running of the economy.

Here are two interesting charts I made using data taken from the ESJS, which look at people’s response to the question: “Overall, how would you best describe your skills in relation to what is required to do your job?” The data set facilitates a comparison between this response and the self-assessed skill level in a number of specific key skills (there are some differences, but nothing really striking). Here we look simply at how people respond based on their formal education level and their type of occupation. The striking finding is how many people in the labour market feel that they have a higher level of skills and competences than is currently required of the job they pursue. It tends to be over one third, irrespective of educational level or occupation.


There are several conclusions that can be drawn from this evidence:

  • There is a need to review how people’s jobs are organised and to increase the share of autonomy and innovation they can bring to their job.
  • There is a need to look into better methods to make people’s real skill profiles (often we talk of ‘tacit knowledge’) more visible, so that both individuals and society can fully harness their skills and competencies.
  • There is a need to activate people’s recognition of the need to learn and support their learning pathways, especially in the dynamic ‘digital economy’ we are currently entering.

On this second point, there are a number of open badge, open pathway and open recognition initiatives being undertaken in Europe and elsewhere to try and facilitate a better matching and use of people’s real skill sets. For instance, the BE Badges initiative from Belgium, which is also represented by a member of MIRVA project. One interesting project from Singapore called Indorse is even trying to connect Blockchain technology with endorsement methods. Its a little too “awesome” in its presentation, but it will be interesting to see how this and other efforts develop in the near future. On the third point, we also need to look into ways to connect skills profiles with suggestions for new learning pathways. This might be a particularly good use for AI with personalised recommendations.

(This post was originally published on )

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