Mayor Faulconer Launches New Digital Tool That Encourages High-Tech Skills Among Youth & Job Seekers

Initiative Provides San Diegans a New Way to Show Employers Real-World Experience Learned Outside Traditional Classrooms

Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 - NEWS RELEASE

San Diego – Continuing his mission to spur innovation, grow the middle class and provide new opportunities for every San Diegan to pursue a lasting career, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer today joined Fab Lab San Diego, the San Diego Workforce Partnership and other local organizations to launch a citywide effort to provide digital certifications that demonstrate professional skills and job readiness.

Administered locally through Fab Lab San Diego, the LRNG Initiative is designed to help close opportunity gaps in cities. The program provides underserved communities, teens and young adults with a portfolio of digital merit badges that represent their educational experiences outside of traditional classrooms, such as 3-D printing or participating in a hackathon.

To reward students for their efforts, program participants can display their digital badges on LinkedIn or other social media sites to demonstrate to employers that they have completed specialized training.

“San Diego residents should be first in line for good-paying San Diego jobs, but the gap between the skills on an applicant’s resume and the skills on an employer’s job description is keeping too many from starting a career in our innovation economy,” said Mayor Faulconer. “Learning happens everywhere these days, from libraries to workshops to hackathons, and this program allows students and job seekers to get credit for the real-world experience they gain. It’s a new way for those San Diegans who pick up their skills outside a traditional classroom to showcase their talents to companies that are hiring."

San Diego is one of only 12 cities selected to partake in the National MacArthur Foundation-backed LRNG platform, which will help people connect with mentors and find new pathways to college and a successful career.

“San Diego is leading the way in improving workforce readiness and life outcomes for all youth by networking learning opportunities citywide and making them count with digital badges,” Connie Yowell, CEO of LRNG/Collective Shift said.

The program uses a “connected learning” model based upon research sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation. The model aims to:

  • Make it matter: Provide youth with learning opportunities depending upon their interests
  • Make it relevant: Connect them to their communities, mentors and individual paths to success
  • Make it fun: Provide a visual marker of educational progress by enabling youth to earn digital badges and experience points based upon achievements and the acquisition of new skills

Some of the organizations offering badges in San Diego include FabLab, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, Manpower, Girls Scouts San Diego, Startup San Diego, the San Diego Smart City Hackathon, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the San Diego Public Library.

“Fab Lab San Diego’s mission is to engage the next generation of inventors and innovators through hands-on educational opportunities with modern technology,” said Katie Rast, Director of Fab Lab. “We are proud to serve as administrators for the LRNG platform, which we consider as one of the best ways to help provide youth and underserved communities with pathways to career opportunities in tech and innovation. San Diego has a rich learning network that offers many opportunities and we're grateful to help identify, certify and badge the learning opportunities associated with work across the city.”

The San Diego Public Library currently offers four badges for participating in its summer reading program, youth volunteer program, teen council and 3D printing design workshop. The library plans to expand its offerings as new programs are developed.

“Through our library programs, we provide access to information and cutting-edge technology, allowing teens and patrons of all ages the opportunity to develop new skills,” said San Diego Public Library Department Director Misty Jones. “Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning through connections to knowledge and each other; we hope these digital badges will open up new pathways for young people to demonstrate their ability and achieve success throughout their lives.”

CONTACT: Jen Lebron at (619) 384-5289 or [email protected]