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University of Phoenix progresses skills-tagged curriculum and digital badging to meet working adult learners’ need to demonstrate skills attainment for workplace relevancy and opportunity

By Sharla Hooper

University of Phoenix has issued more than 12,000 badges in multiple programs in the last nine months

University of Phoenix is participating this week in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Conference, Booth #4664, and sharing details regarding the progress of its skills-tagged curriculum and digital badging, and the issuing of over 12,000 badges in the last nine (9) months, for skills obtained in undergraduate, graduate, and professional development courses. Currently, more than 85% of University of Phoenix programs open for new enrollment are now skills mapped.

The workforce market has been shifting for some time toward recognizing skills, or opportunity, gaps for workers, accelerated by the pandemic, and illustrated in the results of the University of Phoenix’s Career Optimism Index® study. It seems employers of all types are beginning to value how skills can be obtained without a degree, as evidenced further by a new campaign from several large employers championing skills-based hiring and exposing inequities of the “paper ceiling” barrier, or bachelor's degree requirements for jobs.

“Our skill-mapping progress is on the forefront of efforts to close the skills gap and highlight how learners are acquiring skills as part of their progress, which creates opportunity,” states John Woods, Ph.D., provost and chief academic officer. “We are working to align degrees and individual courses to skills employers want, and to empower learners and job seekers in what we anticipate being a new era of skills-based hiring.”

The university has launched badges for undergraduate courses required in most degree programs. Called the Phoenix Success Series, these courses provide undergraduate students within the first six (6) classes the opportunity to earn seven (7) digital skills badges: Intentional Communicator, Reflective Communicator, Reflective Decision Maker, Decision Maker – Personal Finance, Reflective Problem Solver, Strategic Problem Solver, and Intentional Problem Solver.

“It is important to make badges a part of learning to help students better understand and articulate the valuable skills they acquire in classes,” states Briana Houlihan, MBA, dean, College of General Studies. “We want students who are beginning their academic journey to have tangible evidence and feel empowerment in their progress, and be able to share that they are learning those career-relevant skills early in their education journey.”

The university works with labor market researchers including Emsi Burning Glass, and expert faculty in their fields, to identify, tag, and map employer sought-after skills in curriculum, and students’ progress are made visible through their profile dashboard. Students can then claim digital badges, using the Credly platform, to display skills across multiple platforms including resumes, social media and digital platforms as proof of learning for potential employers, current employers, and colleagues.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit