Virginia Commonwealth University awards first digital tech badges to Capital CoLAB graduates

Virginia Commonwealth University has become the first higher education institution in the Capital Region, which includes Richmond, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, to issue web-enabled digital badges to students completing the Capital CoLAB Digital Tech Credential.

These four students completed courses in computers and programming, data science skills and cybersecurity skills to earn the generalist credential, which provides students in non-STEM majors sought-after digital technology skills. Employers have deemed these skills as vital for new entry-level hires, particularly during the challenging conditions brought about by COVID-19. The digital badges, which have become a trusted method for real-time training verification, contain metadata describing the knowledge, skills and abilities acquired, as well as how and where students earned the credential.

Those who were issued digital badges through the VCU Office of Continuing and Professional Education can share their achievement online through social media and other platforms, giving students exclusive opportunities with companies in the Capital Region including, among others, Amazon, CapitalOne and JPMorgan Chase.

VCU was one of the first universities in the Capital Region to offer the Digital Tech Credential, rolling it out to students in 2019. The three courses required for the credential are part of the Fundamentals of Computing specialization offered by the Department of Computer Science in the VCU College of Engineering. To earn the specialization, a student takes an additional software engineering and web development course. All the courses for both the credential and specialization are taught online and are open to non-VCU students, working professionals and those preparing to enter the job market.

The Capital CoLAB Digital Tech Credential program is focused on developing talent in the region by connecting students at participating academic institutions with top businesses across the region to provide students with opportunities and real-world experience. The first credential to be rolled out — the Generalist Digital Tech Credential — helps students in non-STEM majors gain skills in areas such as data analytics, visualization and cybersecurity, using competencies defined by employers across multiple industries.

“I would like to congratulate these four newly badged and credentialed CoLAB students on your accomplishments and for your extraordinary commitment to prepare yourselves for today’s digital workforce,” said Jeanne Contardo, vice president and managing director of the Capital CoLAB. “Your work represents the culmination of several years of work first envisioned by our CoLAB companies and university partners to grow the pool of tech talent in our region. We recognize and honor the hard work of VCU in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives here in the Capital Region.”

“COVID-19 has taught us that the digital economy is no longer coming, it is here,” said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Alice T. and William H. Goodwin, Jr. Dean of VCU’s College of Engineering.  “VCU is committed to preparing all of our students for a productive future and has made the first course in our Capital CoLAB Digital Tech Credential program, ‘Computers and Programming,’ one of the general education courses offered to VCU students as part of their undergraduate experience.” Fall courses begin August 18. To learn more and register, visit: go.vcu.edu/cs-fundamentals.

As a civic alliance of the Capital Region’s leading CEOs, the Greater Washington Partnership is having an immediate impact on the issues and opportunities that differentiate the Capital Region as a leading innovative regional economy. The Greater Washington Partnership launched the Capital CoLAB, a first-of-its-kind partnership of businesses and educators working together to develop talent in the region by providing them with the needed digital skills to create a stronger pipeline into the workforce. To date, the CoLAB has engaged 19 leading employers, 12 universities, five K-12 school districts and numerous partners across Baltimore, D.C. and Richmond in an effort to grow the region into one of the nation’s leading hubs for digital tech employment.

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