Revolutionizing Education With Microcredentials and Reskilling

The ever-changing educational sphere is being revolutionized as we speak, with the advent of new technologies and the unforeseen impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Learners today are inundated with a plethora of learning avenues, from bite-sized YouTube tutorials to expansive online courses, and the quality and type of these educational offerings vary immensely. This transformation is occurring in the face of a global “skills emergency,” where industries and governments alike are in dire need of new competencies. According to the World Economic Forum in 2020, an estimated 40% of the workforce will require reskilling by 2025, and an overwhelming 94% of business leaders expect their employees to learn new skills while on the job. Furthermore, it is anticipated that 97 million new roles will be created or evolve by the same year.

This seismic shift has led to a growing sentiment that traditional university degrees may not hold the same value they once did. Employers are increasingly viewing graduates as underprepared for the professional world, lacking both the essential skills and the soft skills needed in modern industries. In response, higher education institutions, particularly in Aotearoa New Zealand, are adapting by offering shorter, more focused professional development courses and microcredentials to bridge these gaps.

Adult learners often seek flexibility in their education, balancing their studies with work and family obligations. Online microcredentials offer this adaptability, presenting education in smaller, more manageable units. This approach not only caters to the needs of learners but also provides a sustainable commercial model for universities in the long term. For instance, the University of Canterbury has introduced over a dozen microcredentials, covering a range from academic writing to well-being, with strong demand from learners.

For education providers with limited resources considering developing short courses, integrating these into larger programs and responding to industry or community demand can be a strategic approach. The global educational landscape is increasingly favoring such modular learning experiences, often delivered online through platforms such as edX and Coursera.

Microcredentials differ from MOOCs in that they are typically more vocationally focused and designed to help learners upskill or reskill for employment purposes. In 2018, Aotearoa New Zealand took proactive steps by incorporating microcredentials into its national qualifications framework (NZQF), providing a pathway for designing and developing these credentials that all higher education providers in the country can deliver. A microcredential is defined as “smaller than a full qualification,” addressing specific skills that meet learner or industry needs.

To gain CPD accreditation for a microcredential, institutions must undergo a rigorous application process that includes industry endorsements, highlighting the demand for that particular skill. This ensures that the education provided is relevant and sought after by employers. In New Zealand, an official microcredential can range from five to 40 credits or 50 to 400 learning hours, emphasizing skills not usually taught in longer academic programs.

Industry partnerships are vital in this context, as only approved education providers can offer microcredentials. Industries can collaborate with these providers to co-design tailored microcredentials, ensuring that the training is highly relevant to their specific context. For example, UC’s collaboration with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency on a project management microcredential has been met with high success rates and positive feedback.

The experience at UC shows that employers are eager for credible ways to upskill their workforce through trusted institutions’ online learning modules. In times like these, professional development through reliable credentials is more important than ever.

For those seeking guidance on How to get CPD accredited or interested in understanding the Cost of accreditation, it’s worthwhile to explore options for Self-accreditation education providers or the issuance of Digital CPD certificates to enhance professional development offerings.

In conclusion, microcredentials and reskilling initiatives represent an adaptable and responsive evolution in education, catering to the immediate needs of industries while providing learners with valuable and practical skills. As we navigate through this era of rapid change, such innovations in learning will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping a skilled and adaptable workforce for the future.

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