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Micro-credentials for macro careers

Stones stacked on a beach

APEC TVET Forum 2022 did a deep dive into the fast-growing trend of micro-credentials, and the value they bring to both employees and organisations.

September’s APEC TVET Forum, co-hosted by Skills Consulting Group, was a huge success, and one of the most popular sessions was a panel on micro-credentialling. Moderator Stuart Martin, a micro-credential specialist and Consultant for Skills’ Group, led a lively discussion about these flexible, fast and focused learning programmes can open up career pathways for invidviduals while benefitting employers in the long term. 

Panelists included Easter Manila-Silipa, Director of the Australia Pacific Training Coalition 
Frances Valentine, Founder of Mind Lab 
Jenny Dodd, CEO of TAFE Directors Australia 
Dr. Pan Yang, Deputy Director, Qingdao Vocational and Technical College of Hotel Management

Not just lunch and learn 

TVET providers have spent some time recently trying to decide what a micro-credential actually is, and how it differs in definition across the Asia-Pacific region. Australia leads the charge on formalising the value of micro-credentials.

Short courses have been part of the vocational education and training sector in Australia for decades,” says Jenny Dodd. “But now Australia has released a national micro-credentials framework.”

Dodd explains that micro-credentials are quantifiable and definable, separate from a short course. In Australia, a micro-credential has to offer a minimum volume of learning of one hour and has to be formally assessed. Dodd sees their primary use as part of the continuous professional development category of vocational education. 

“One very exciting aspect is the ability to stack micro-credentials. Somebody could start with a 10 credit micro-credential followed by multiple additional micro-credentials, and stack them up towards a larger qualification, such as a degree or a master’s degree,” explains Valentine.  

Meanwhile, the Samoan qualifications authority, which is a government agency and national quality assurance agency, view micro-credentials as a recognition of non-formal learning activities. 

“It is a structured form of learning but it does not lead to a formal qualification,” explains Easter Manila-Silipa. “Micro-credentials provide a targeted boost to both skills and knowledge for quicker transition to the workplace.” 

Do we always need a gold star? 

Valentine says in New Zealand we can see the value of non-badged short courses.  

“There is still a lot of people who would rather have a short course without the assessments because they’re actually looking for the knowledge and not necessarily the certificate,” Valentine explains. “I think that as time goes on, we’ll see programs that are leaning towards the non-credentialed, non-accredited view, plus the credit-earning, stackable assist model. The two will operate in parallel for different markets and different needs.”  

Valentine notes that for older professionals who need to upskill, going back to formal education may be too much and micro-credentials are more accessible.  

Meanwhile, Jenny Dodd says the Australian framework ensures that micro-credentialing is linked directly to, and driven by, industry need. It is about small parcels of professional upskilling within a role, not qualifying for something new.  

In Samoa, micro-credentialing gives young people the chance to become work-ready in an environment where further education is often not accessible. 

“There are vulnerable students, especially from low income earning families who are not able to do a qualification over an extended period because they need to be employed at the same time,” says Manila-Silipa. “It’s very appealing to the students, not just here in Samoa but also to the other Pacific audience that we at APTC represent.” 

Learn more about the value of micro-credentials across TVET through to the entire education and training sector as a whole by watching the full APAC TVET Forum 2022 – Micro-credentials Panel recording, here. 
Discover what digital credentialing can offer your people here.

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