Analysis: Blockchain technology is a possible cure for labour market problems

A new report from the American Education Council argues that blockchain technology will be able to help people restore control over their credentials and better equip them in an increasingly insecure global job market.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the report was released June 8 and drew its conclusions based on surveys conducted between November 2019 and February 2020.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors point out that, in December 2019, data from the Federal Reserve indicated that 4 out of 10 recent graduates were underemployed and that the average time spent in a job had fallen to an average of 4.2 years.

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In these difficult working conditions, the authors argue that what could help graduates and the workforce would be greater control over the multiple credentials they need to keep up as they move into increasingly dynamic and unpredictable jobs.

They detailed: „Bitcoin Code, in particular, holds the promise of creating more efficient and lasting connections between education and work:

„Blockchain’s unique tamper-proof and record keeping attributes will be able to optimize human capital and promote competitiveness and social mobility“.

The report’s authors use the term „human capital data“ to refer to an individual’s academic and work history, which is reflected in their credentials and allows them to „transact“ with various „education stakeholders, employers and the workforce.

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How can blockchain technology help?
The report currently argues that historical conventions, policies and technologies are limiting people’s control and access to their human capital data, meaning that they are „unmanaged“ over their own records.

Combining self-serving identity standards with blockchain-based curricula and portfolios is one way to provide „multiple stakeholders“ – university registrars, hiring managers, students and workers – with a reliable, real-time record of knowledge and skills

The authors of the report identify three main themes in their research that reflect the opportunities they see in using „DLT to promote social equity“.

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These are „personal data agencies, lifelong learning and the power of connected ecosystems“.

According to the report, there are 71 international projects currently exploring the use of blockchain technologies in education, many of which remain in the proof-of-concept or pilot-testing stages.

The authors summarize their field research by arguing that, given the „speed and granularity“ required for people to document, verify and share their „human capital information,“ a technology that is „sustainable, transparent and auditable,“ blockchain a „determining factor“ that can „overwhelm“ their „competitive advantage“ in the global economy.

In addition to being flexible and adaptable in real time, this technology can crucially provide individualized ownership of data, which the authors of the report consider to be an imperative, especially for „vulnerable populations“:

„As a society and economy, we must support … better learning opportunities for all, preserve evidence of quality learning, ensure equitable use of learning data, and enable students and workers to use their data to lead prosperous lives and promote economic growth. In the consensual spirit of blockchain, we can achieve these aspirations together.