Published in late 2021, and developed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the National Microcredentials Framework has been published by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE).

In its 20 pages it aims to “provide consistency and recognition of microcredentials across Australia by bringing greater national cohesion to microcredentials, set common standards, and serve as a strong reference point for providers, industry and learners involved in the creation, use, monitoring, or application of these credentials.”

It will also, hopefully, “help reduce complications for learners seeking to make a decision on what to learn, for employers or professional bodies seeking to understand the learning outcomes and capabilities of employees, and for recognising bodies or providers seeking to recognise a microcredential for credit.”

Defining microcredentials

The framework defines microcredentials “as a certification of assessed learning or competency, with a minimum volume of learning of one hour and less than an AQF award qualification, that is additional, alternate, complementary to or a component part of an AQF award qualification.”

OK, that helps – but it is pretty broad in its scope as it can be separate to, or part of an AQF qualification. So, this means that microcredentials can potentially embrace and include skill sets and units of competency. That’s what the framework seems to be saying. But it can also include assessed industry learning such as vendor certifications and other professional learning experiences. Thus, it covers both higher ed. and VET as well as other forms of education, training and personal development. The key element, though, is that assessment takes place – and hopefully that assessment is of good quality.

What are the four key unifying principles?

First, the microcredentials are outcome-based, so that they “highlight the overall learning outcomes a learner is expected to achieve upon completion.”

Second, they are driven by industry need and “are designed and implemented with the intent of both being learner-centric and meeting industry standards/needs.” They can “build on a learner’s knowledge, skills or competencies, and target industry needs/gaps.” They “can also address a more general industry need or skill, e.g. communication, leadership.”

Third, they are tailored and support lifelong learning and “are created with the purpose of allowing learners to choose courses that are targeted to their needs and future ambitions.”

Finally, they are transparent and accessible so that providers offering them “supply a set amount of information when publishing [details about them]. Aspects such as learning outcomes, mode of delivery, expected effort, content, and modes of assessment will be accessible/viewable by learners prior to course initiation.”

The framework also includes a minimum set of critical information requirements, including a title, provider name, a description of the structure of the microcredential and a summary of the content that will be taught, a set of learning outcomes, the delivery mode, the assessment process, any inherent requirements or resources required to undertake it, the required learner effort and volume of learning, the dates of delivery (and an outline of the schedule within these dates), any cost to learners or financial assistance available and finally any certification, credit or other recognition the microcredential provides. Also required are details about its quality assurance processes and prerequisites. Finally, there are a series of “recommended elements.”

A set of minimum standards are outlined, and a number of these elements are then described in greater detail.

Please take a look at the framework and, by the way, it’s “envisaged that the Framework will be reviewed 12 months after its implementation.”