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October 2, 2018

UMaine partners with Bangor Savings, Northern Light Health in pilot workforce program

The University of Maine is one of seven colleges working on a national initiative to promote interpersonal job skills needed by students, and will pilot the use of "digital badges" in connecting students with those skills to employers at Bangor Savings Bank and Northern Light Health.

UMaine, Bangor and Northern Light will identify essential — but difficult to measure — qualities of entry-level employees, such as intercultural fluency, communication skills and resilience, according to a news release. Working with a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, the Education Design Lab, the university will offer coursework and activities to develop these skills.

Bangor and Northern Light (the new name for Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems that took effect on Monday) have pledged to consider job applications of UMaine students who have earned the lab's electronic credentials in those areas.

The year-long Tee Up the Skills initiative includes colleges throughout the country serving a total of 175,000 students, many from underserved populations such as African Americans, veterans and rural communities. Schools that have previously used the lab's credentialing include Georgetown University and Vassar College.

"Micro-credentials have gained a lot of traction quickly," Education Design Lab Founder and President Kathleen deLaski said in the release. "But to fulfill the promise that they will help students articulate key hire-ability skills and make them digitally visible to employers, we need hiring managers to give us clearer 'market signals' to validate these as credentials."

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