As skills rise in importance to employers, university educational programmes can adopt micro-credentials to give potential employees an advantage with recruiters
The pace of change in today’s workplace is unprecedented. A generation ago, a career spent in one role was commonplace. Today, having multiple careers over a lifetime appears to be the rule rather than the exception. And, with every new role comes new requirements.
The need to reskill and pursue ongoing education created by this dynamic is an opportunity for higher education institutions to continue to provide value beyond the traditional degree.
It is also an opportunity to widen access to non-traditional learners who may benefit from short programmes, such as micro-credentials with specific goals. These programmes empower students to advance their careers whilst providing employers with a knowledgeable and agile workforce.
Specific accreditation with micro-credential programme
Faster to complete than a degree, and often at a fraction of the cost, micro-credential programmes enable students to gain specialised certifications for specific skills or knowledge areas. Ranging from computer programming to project management, they can be awarded for both formal and informal learning experiences, increasing employability.
These programmes, especially those delivered in flexible formats, widen participation to include non-traditional higher education students – usually a more diverse group of students, particularly in age and previous experience.
Upon completion, students will receive a certificate that can be attached to a CV or LinkedIn when applying for jobs.
Because they’re stackable, meaning they can be built upon towards a larger qualification, they can give students a competitive edge when applying for certain jobs.
Such is their power, in certain fields, micro-credentials can give potential employees an advantage with recruiters by demonstrating their ability to be able to start in a position with immediate effect and their commitment to skill development.
Micro-credentials can enhance a university’s reputation
There are many benefits for higher education providers to capitalise on having a micro-credential programme as part of their offering.
First and foremost, it shows that universities recognise the diverse learning needs of their community and their critical role in the new economy. They also enable students with busy schedules or limited resources, who otherwise might be locked out from gaining the knowledge needed to achieve more, acquire new skills and advance their careers with lifelong learning.
Investing in micro-credential programmes is also good for the community. Not only does it build stronger ties to the larger communities they serve by providing high-quality education and training in in-demand skills, but it could drive opportunities to work with local employers to build specific micro-credential programmes that align with business needs.
It is also an opportunity for universities to explore partnerships with employers to provide scholarships to staff as part of PDPs (Personal Development Plans) and apprenticeships to anyone starting out. More and more businesses are building upskilling into their business strategies.
A more agile education offering
There is an obvious attraction that shorter programmes offer opportunities for universities to test more innovative teaching and learning approaches and be more agile in the development of the curriculum.
Having a shorter cycle also means integrating student feedback and employability data in the next operations of the programme in a more agile manner.
These programmes are usually more applied in nature which enables approaches that integrate theory and practice better, use problem-based and experiential learning and take better advantage of technologies.
Micro-credentials are here to stay
Recognising that economy and career expectations are shifting rapidly, micro-credentials offer a way for learners to gain new, in-demand skills, and for universities to offer innovative training programmes that maintain competitiveness, adapt to meet changing market demands, and expand access to learners beyond the traditional on-campus set.
Micro-credentials might also offer opportunities to strengthen the relationship with the local and regional communities and the ability to align offerings to the needs of local and regional markets.
Some higher education practices may be perceived as slow to adapt and evolve. Micro-credentialing is an opportunity to embrace change – both in the economic landscape and in curricular approaches and offers a great opportunity to discuss and develop programmes that are truly aligned with business and learners’ needs.
Joel Armando manages the Client Experience Management team in EMEA at Anthology.