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AN EDUCATIONAL EDGE: Aysegul Timur says FGCU’s badge program is being designed in concert with local employers to better prepare students to enter the workforce.


As a senior majoring in neuroscience at Florida Gulf Coast University, Ashley Greulich is looking at earning her Ph.D. But, thanks to the digital badge she earned as part of a new program designed to give FGCU students more practical skills, potential employers are already looking at her.

Ashley Greulich

“Times have changed and, especially with COVID, the job market is even more competitive, so I decided to start looking into how to get noticed by employers,” Greulich says. “When I got into the [Medical Device Industry] class, I saw they were offering the badge, and that was something that I could show on my LinkedIn profile. Once I got that badge, I noticed Arthrex was now looking at my page. So, if I were to start applying to jobs, I feel like it would be an absolute pusher for me to get to the front of the line as someone who has a little bit more experience than just anybody who’s applying.”

Part of an initiative to help participants be better prepared to enter the workforce, FGCU’s digital badges, or microcredentials, are earned by students who complete an additional assessment that demonstrates their mastery of a given course’s content and skills. And according to Aysegul Timur, vice president and vice provost of Strategy and Program Innovation at FGCU, the badge program is being designed in concert with local employers, such as Arthrex, Gartner, NeoGenomics and IBM, to directly address changes in their industries.

“The workplace is changing dynamically all the time. Over time, people need to gain new skills, new knowledge, new abilities to be successful, because the technology is changing, and the expectations are changing. These in-demand skills have been a big concern for employers,” Timur says. “Our initiative at FGCU is a response to these skills gaps that have been identified by employers and how we can prepare our students better for these positions. Our difference is that we are closely listening to our industry leaders and business owners in this region and working with them. It is more like faculty and industry partnerships preparing our students to close these skill gaps.”

While FGCU’s badge program is aimed at preparing students for a constantly changing workplace, Timur said every course that offers a badge is also open to anyone in the community who wants to enhance their skills. And as employer needs continue to change, FGCU plans to keep the badge program flexible, to constantly provide students with the skills they need to grow and succeed.

“These microcredentials are for everyone … FGCU students, somebody who doesn’t have a degree who wants to earn these microcredentials, or somebody who already has a degree but needs re-skilling and upskilling,” Timur says. “The difference for micro-credentialing is it is quick to change and quick to adapt. These are very nimble programs that we can quickly respond to the industry and their needs at that point of time.”

From a student’s perspective, Greulich is enthusiastic about the possibilities of adding more digital badges to her online profile, and more skills to her résumé. The extra experience alone, she said, will likely help create job opportunities, regardless of one’s major or degree.

“If you’re looking to get ahead, if you’re looking to take a deeper dive into an industry that could change your life, then I would say go for the badge,” Greulich says. “Not only is it an incredible experience, but it has opened up doors of opportunity that I never would have had if I didn’t pursue this. It’s challenging, but it’s worth it.”


Photo Credit: Getty, Courtesy Lotus Solutions

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