The participants of the Digital Diploma meeting within the framework of the 3rd St Petersburg International Labour Forum discussed how the blockchain technology in education would help employers to headhunt suitable candidates quickly and effectively.

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The experts noted that the blockchain would make it possible to accumulate much more information about graduates – for example, about their academic credentials and achievements. Moreover, this technology will make it possible to confirm the authenticity of this data.

At present, there are state-recognised and non-state recognised diplomas. As a result, employers often face the challenge of verifying their authenticity. Moreover, the educational documents themselves are becoming meaningless, since the skills and competencies of the potential employee are put first. The participants agreed that today it was necessary to create a single “ecosystem” of trust for applicants, employers and educational institutions.

When recruiting and selecting staff, the employer usually focuses on the data that is specified in the CV. So they cannot always immediately assess the competencies of the applicant.

Evgenii Pen, the discussion moderator, Executive Director of the Centre for Blockchain Technology, St Petersburg University

The blockchain technology can help solve this problem: it makes it possible to store and manage reliable data. With the help of the blockchain, educational institutions can maintain feedback with graduates and verify data about them. Applicants can provide information about their work experience and level of education.

Last year, students of St Petersburg University presented one of such projects at the HR hackathon at the Labour Forum. They developed a platform that processes the digital footprint of the graduate. The programme indexes all the texts created during the student’s learning process, for example, term projects or graduation projects, and correlate them with employers’ requests. As a result of processing the digital footprint of the graduate, applicants are ranked depending on the tasks set by the business representative.

“Some areas – such as IT or pharmacology – have the means to create a search system and attract talents, but most employers do not have such opportunities,” said Nikolay Rogachev, First Deputy Chairman of the St Petersburg Committee for Labour and Employment. “It is not always easy for students to find their first internship or a job. Representatives of big companies find the best students themselves, while young people who are not so talented find it difficult to make their way among dozens and hundreds of other applicants.”

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Such platforms for processing the digital footprint of graduates will reduce the retrieval time for the required candidate, as well as increase their chances of being employed. With the blockchain technology, the student's indexed research papers and information about their achievements will remain on the university database and be change protected. This will increase employers' confidence in the retrieval results.

According to Ilya Nikiforov, CEO of the Disciplina blockchain architecture, the key problem lies not so much in the protection of diplomas from forgery, as in understanding what knowledge is behind a particular document. The expert noted that education did not stop after graduation, but was a lifelong process, because the person constantly acquired new skills and competencies.

When I, as an employer, ask a person about their experience, the figure itself is not so important to me. It gives me only an understanding of how experienced the candidate is. The security of educational credentials is not so relevant for us, because the problem is much deeper than that,” said Ilya Nikiforov. “The issue is what information I can quickly draw from the diploma, without spending resources on it. If we put two diplomas next to each other, we cannot compare them to each other. The marks therein tell us nothing if we do not know anything about the lecturers. Then our task is not to verify documents, but to create the graduate’s honest profile which represents a clearly digitised copy of their skills.”

What is interesting, today services for checking education credentials are being actively developed in different universities and companies of Russia. How these services work and what can be done with their help was explained at the event by: Ruslan Baryshev, IPUniversity Project Manager at Siberian Federal University; Anton Zarubin, Vice-Rector for Informatisation, the Bonch-Bruevich St Petersburg State University of Telecommunications; Anzhelika Sheshunova, CEO of the blockchain platform IZZZIO; Maksim Savelyev, Project Manager of the Digital Design Research Development Directorate; and other experts.