The New Zealand Qualifications Authority recently consulted about recognising micro-credentials to complement existing qualifications.
This is a debate occurring in Australia too as we look at hard at the AQF and Training Packages, and what might change.
Why look at micro-credentials?
Here in Australia the current review of the AQF and its underpinning contextual research raised the question about whether the international trend towards micro-credentials was something that Australia should adopt given increased demand internationally for micro and flexible credentialing. Much of this has to do with the pace of technological change and “increasingly looking outside the AQF qualifications mix to gain ‘on-time’, ‘in place’ skills development…”. The concerns are the time training documentation takes to get to market, and its currency once it does.
There has also been increasing criticism of the Training Package concept here in Australia. The recent strategic capability review of TAFE SA tabled earlier this month in the South Australian Parliament noted that:
“There is likely to be a decline in the relevance of traditional VET Training Packages (TPs) and courses, and an increase in demand for tailored training responses supporting both a shift to higher qualification levels within the Australian Qualifications Framework and the attainment of specific skills through skill-sets or micro-credentialing.”
So, what did the New Zealanders conclude?
Their work started with a consultation paper. It proposed recognition and quality assurance of micro-credentials from New Zealand tertiary education organisations, changes to their current Training Scheme Rules to include micro-credentials and provisions for recognising micro-credentials from non-New Zealand tertiary education organisations. The consultation paper netted 76 submissions in all, and there was strong support for their introduction. For example, professional associations indicated strong interest in the use of micro-credentials to maintain the competency of their respective profession’s members.
As a result they have developed a system to introduce them, and an overview of the system suggests it needs to have a range of educational elements, including that it certifies achievement of a set of skills and knowledge and that these skills and knowledge are coherent. In addition, “strong demonstrable evidence of need by industry, employer and/or community [is] required’ and that the micro-credential “does not typically duplicate current quality-assured learned approved by NZQA” or be so large as to be a qualification in its own right.
The overview provides details about the entities that can deliver or arrange training and how the system will be administered and quality assured. One of its key features is the credit value associated with each micro-credential. This recognition also Includes:
“recognising small discrete pieces of learning, encouraging portfolio-based approaches to education and training and credentialing existing knowledge and skills.”
There was concern that there was a risk of duplication and proliferation of micro-credentials, and that this needed to be managed. This might be addressed by developing both a register of approved micro-credentials and a strong quality assurance system to manage the risks and maintain their credibility. The system came into operation in late August 2018. If you want to get more information, use the link to the overview of the system given above.