Published August 25, 2020
Micro-Credentials in 2020: How Can They Benefit You?
- Published on August 25, 2020
- Updated on June 4, 2021
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Now more than ever, the job market has an urgency for Micro-Credentials – these mini qualifications and learning experiences are becoming the forefront of professional skill sets, with 95% of human resource managers actively seeking micro-credentials from potential candidates.
Especially as a result of this technological age, employers must ensure that their team is fully equipped with a combination of both hard and soft skills. Microcredentialing solidifies this need, for both employers and employees.
In this article we explore:
- What micro-credentials are
- What digital badges are
- The importance of micro-credentials
- How to obtain them
- What kinds of skills they demonstrate
What Are Micro-Credentials?
Micro credentials are certification-style qualifications that individuals choose to study to improve a skill found in a particular industry area. They are short, low-cost online courses that provide learners with a digital certification or a ‘digital badge’ when complete. This new learning concept continues to gain recognition and is highly sought after within the professional landscape.
The key difference between microcredentialling and other qualifications offered by higher education institutions – such as certificates or bachelors – is that micro credentials are delivered as ‘bite-sized’ chunks; illustrating the proficiency in a particular skill. They are developed with its particular industry in mind, ensuring that the qualification meets industry-specific needs, is relevant and is recognised by future employers. This new approach to professional development is personalised and generally transferrable.
Micro credentials are also known to be called:
- Digital badges
- Nano degrees
- Web badges
- Mini degrees
- Open badges
According to the ‘Soft Skills for Business Success’ report by Deloitte Access Economics
of all Australian jobs will be soft skill intensive by 2030
What Is a Digital Badge?
A Digital Badge is an authenticated, online representation of a skill, quality or ability. Digital Badges can be earned in a variety of learning environments via a micro-credential course.
They are a new means of recognising and certifying peoples’ skills, knowledge, capabilities and accomplishments, and allow learners to connect with recruiters and new opportunities.
On successful completion of a micro-credential course, learners can then share their digital badges on their social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn.
of existing university degrees will soon be obsolete and traditional undergraduate or postgraduate degrees could disappear within a decade
Why Are Micro-Credentials Important?
Micro-credentials are important as they are beneficial to both sides of an organisation (employer and employee), as well as students who are looking to break into a particular industry post-graduation. As disappointing as it is, a degree as a result of a four-year postgraduate course may not always be enough for a specific role. This is where micro-credentials come in.
They help to mould specific skills with additional mini qualifications, in an informal learning style that aligns with the needs of an industry or sub-industry. As a result of this, employers will then reap the benefits. These more modernised, industry-relevant qualifications will see more informed, better-equipped employees in entry-level positions.
Due to most industry areas existing in a continuous state of fluidity, to stay afloat amongst these changes in technology and guidelines, anyone in any stage of their professional career can gain from narrowed educational micro-credential courses to develop their abilities. This is not to say that only students can profit from micro-credential courses.
Those who are currently in the workforce would have already been exposed to steady changes, as industry areas progress as a result of collaboration, globalisation and technological advancements such as automation. By upskilling with a micro-credential, current workers can tighten the ‘skills gap’ that continues to grow between them and their fast-paced industry; ensuring that their professional growth remains continuous by keeping up-to-date with relevant and emerging practices.
Overall, micro-credentials hold authority in the professional landscape as they help candidates to stand out in the recruitment process and enhance employability potential, and offer a narrow skill to an industry area that is valued by employers.
Obtaining a Micro-credential: What Does it Generally Entail?
Micro credentials are comparable to a shortened version of a degree or course. These qualification types can take from a few weeks to up to a year to complete, all depending on the specifications and requirements of the micro-credential. Throughout the duration of the micro-credential course, you may be required to complete one or a combination of:
As per course requirements, you may be asked to complete tests, projects, practical assessments and/or other forms of coursework in order to illustrate your theoretical knowledge in this given field
You may be asked to be present at/participate in industry-specific conferences, immersing students in field-related skills and practices
Again, depending on the particular micro-credential course, you may be asked to produce a folio as part of the assessment process to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge in a particular knowledge area
Lectures and Seminars
Your micro-credential course may involve students’ attendance to a lecture or seminar component
Demonstration of Skills
Lastly, you may be required to show your understanding of your newly developed skill set by applying it within a practical setting
Do Micro-Credentials Demonstrate Soft or Hard Skills?
Micro-credentials can help to formalise both soft and hard skills.
Knowledge-based, or ‘hard’ skills are learnt from education and experience, and are generally a required skill that contributes to an overarching skill set for a specific role.
Some examples of hard skills are:
- Front-End Web Development
- Digital Marketing
- Data Analytics
- Social Media
Soft skills are transferable skills that you can adapt and apply to many jobs – they are equally as important as hard skills. Soft skills are imperative in driving business outcomes; they are a significant contributor to team efficiency, suggesting that the solidification of soft skills via micro-credentialing could see dramatic improvements in the way a professional practice functions.
Some examples of soft skills are:
- Customer Service
- Leadership Skills
- Critical Thinking
- Customer Service
- E-mail Etiquette
By participating in the micro-credentialing process, you are exposed to a more systematic style of learning and training. It is a common occurrence that job-learned skills aren’t acknowledged, as there has never been a simple way of solidifying this knowledge via a recognised qualification or ‘badge’.
Through the ability to build on these skills via a cumulative outlook, employees are provided with a structured approach in which they can measure and formalise the knowledge and skills learnt with ease. This kind of professional learning provides a continuous progression for employees, both in their present role and in their professional career.
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