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Badges for Vets: Helping jobs find Veterans. Helping Veterans find jobs.

 

Connecting Veteran Skills to Good Jobs.  Veterans rejoin the civilian community with up-to-date, cutting edge job skills developed during training and work experience in their military service.  These job skills are highly valued and desired by civilian employers. 

Veterans report challenges, however, in “translating” military job skills to their civilian counterparts and in obtaining civilian credit for military training.   The easier task is drawing direct linkages between skills acquired in the military and the duties performed in civilian jobs.  More challenging is obtaining civilian recognition of military training when formal education is a prerequisite for employment or licensure. 

With the Badges for Vets Challenge, the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Education, Labor, and Energy seek a system of badges that quickly translates military training and experience into marketable credentials so employers will see Veterans as among the best qualified in any job applicant pool.

The Challenge.  The goal of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition, http://www.dmlcompetition.net/, is support for the creation of digital tools to identify, recognize, measure, and account for skills, competencies, knowledge, and achievements acquired during the course of lifelong learning.  The Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges, has been selected to enable interoperability and seamless collection of badges.

VA does not anticipate that it will issue badges or, except as an employer, actively participate in the resulting badges program.  Instead, VA believes it can serve Veterans and employers by acting as a catalyst for the development of meaningful badge systems.

VA will award prizes of up to $25,000 to as many as three applicant teams that demonstrate they can develop and deliver an industry-recognized digital badge representing military-learned skill sets of specific interest to civilian employers. 

To be eligible for a prize, entrants must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the judges that the proposed badge system will deliver real, substantial, and sustainable benefit to both employers and Veterans by achieving two separate but interrelated goals.  First, entrants must demonstrate that a significant number of employers will accept the credential as demonstrating occupational qualifications actually desired in the specific occupational area.  Second, entrants must demonstrate to the judges that Veterans will have clear and achievable pathways to acquire credentials which are desired by employers.  Entries which the judges determine do not meet these criteria will not be awarded a prize.  

Badges in this competition must address one of the following priority areas:

  • Supply Administration and Logistics, which may include specialties such as supply chain procurement, automated logistics management and lean Six Sigma
  • Law Enforcement, which may include specialties such as criminal investigation and analysis
  • Medical Care and Treatment, with specific focus on Physician’s Assistants
  • Motor Vehicle Operators, with specific focus on civilian occupations requiring a Commercial Driver’s License
  • Automotive service and repair, with specific focus on emerging technologies such as electric –drive vehicles and alternative fuels.

These priority areas are among the largest number of Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) Codes earned by recently discharged Veterans for specific training and experience during military service, as identified by Department of Defense (DoD).Additional information about the MOS Code system and variants within specific military services is in the Appendix.

In some of these priority areas, VA anticipates that Veterans can move quickly to achieve digital badges designating specific civilian-marketable skills based solely on military training and experience (MTE).  In these cases, a successful badge system can deliver value to employers and Veterans by

  • identifying specific skills and competencies desired by employers,
  • verifying that Veterans can demonstrate those skills based on relevant MTE, and
  • awarding and validating digital badges that Veterans can use to demonstrate job qualifications.

In other of these priority areas, badge systems will need to provide pathways by which Veterans can:

  • acquire formal civilian education or other credit based on their MTE,
  • civilian licensure based on MTE, or
  • a combination of the two. 

In some cases, a badge system will need to support pathways by which Veterans supplement MTE with specific education when needed to qualify for occupational certifications or licenses needed to be marketable in the civilian field.

Badge Systems. VA seeks effective and sustainable badge systems built on partnerships with organizations that:

  • Are widely representative of employers who have recurring need to employ individuals with skill sets in the areas of interest.
  • Have – or demonstrate that they can develop and deliver – programs and processes that deliver validated credentials as indicators of skill or accomplishment in the areas of interest.
  • Can demonstrate they have or can develop:
  • Programs to validly assess prior learning acquired from education, training or experience and particularly MTE,
  • Articulation agreements with accredited institutions that support formal recognition of MTE through the granting of academic credit or satisfaction of prerequisites,
  • Programs that identify additional training or experience required to meet essential prerequisites for occupational certification or licensure,
  • Financing for such additional training or experience that makes it possible for Veterans to earn a specific badge,
  • Programs that assure a Veteran who chooses to acquire additional training and experience is prepared for success when seeking formal occupational certification or licensure.

Proposals should suggest metrics to define successful outcomes if implemented.  Measures can include the number of issued badges or other credentials.  More meaningful metrics will include:

  • Dropout and success rates for Veterans who seek additional training,
  • Market share of employers that accept the badge to meet qualification requirements,
  • The number of Veterans who are actually hired into positions for which a badge shows they qualify,
  • Six-month retention and one-year promotion rates, and
  • Measures of employer and Veteran satisfaction. 

VA’s contest awards will be administered by the VA Innovations Initiative (VAi2) under the America Competes Act; prize winners must meet eligibility and other requirements established by the Act and comply with formal contest rules to be published in the Federal Register. Judges for this contest will include federal officials and individuals from the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition. 

 

Appendix

  1. What is a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) Code?   

A Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) code describes the work done by a Service Member while on active duty or in the reserves. It includes training and certifications.  

MOS codes are alphanumeric codes assigned to each military occupational specialty.  Combined with pay grade, they describe what a Service Member did while on active duty or in the reserves. 

Each Service branch within the Department of Defense uses versions of MOS codes specific to their mission.

Army/Army National Guard:  United States Army jobs are broken down into Military Occupational Specialty Codes, or MOSCs.  Jobs with similar MOSCs are arranged in groups known as Career Management Fields.  The Army’s PAMXXI web site shows these codes: https://pamxxi.armyg1.army.mil/WelcomeUnclas.aspx#nogo - click on the “MOS Structure” tab.

Marine Corps/Reserves:  The Marine Corps arranges jobs with similar MOSs into groups known as Occupational Fields.  This information is contained in the Marine Corps MOS Manual: http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/MCO%201200.17.pdf.

Air Force/Air National Guard:  The Air Force assigns an Air Force Specialty (AFS) code.  Enlisted AFSCs consist of five characters; officer AFSCs consist of four characters. A letter prefix or suffix may be used with an AFSC when more specific identification of position requirements and individual qualifications is necessary. Information at: http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/shared/media/epubs/afi36-2101.pdf

Navy:  Enlisted personnel are assigned an Enlisted Occupational Classifications (NEOCS) code. Officers are assigned Navy Officer Manpower and Personnel Classification.

The system for enlisted codes is available at:  http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/enlisted/detailing/personnelreadiness/Documents/NECVol2.pdf

The Navy Officer codes systems is described in two manuals:  http://navynavadmin.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/nocvol1.pdf, and             

http://navynavadmin.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/nocvol2.pdf.

Coast Guard:  The Coast Guard groups specialties for enlisted personnel into general ratings described here: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg1/TracenPetaluma/TPF/Ratingsinfo/RatingInfo.asp.               

  1.  How does a MOS translate to civilian jobs?

Many MOS codes describe training and education which is directly transferable to civilian job requirements.Online skills translators can convert MOS codes into general skill set descriptions which are useful to both Veterans and employers.

Some online skills translators include:

  1. How can a Veteran get a list of the MOS Codes they earned while in military service?

MOS codes and military training are listed on a Veteran’s DD-214, the form they receive when they are discharged or separated from military service.   VA’s My HealtheVet web site, www.myhealth.va.gov/ will soon include MOS and training data in downloads available using the Blue Button function. 

     4. How does a Veteran receive college or other educational credit for training received in military service?

Educational institutions decide whether to allow academic credit for military training and experience based on their own policies. Many colleges and universities follow The American Council on Education’s (ACOE's) Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services: http://www.militaryguides.acenet.edu/index.htm.   Many Army Veterans can arrange to have records of their military training be sent electronically to ACOE; see http://aarts.army.mil/faqs.htm#q5.

 

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