This environmental scan looks at the use of micro-credentials in Canada, and maybe that can help advise Australian practice.
It notes the need for “upskilling and reskilling has created a trend toward short courses known as micro-credentials that focus on specific competencies required by employers.”
What are they?
The Canadians define them as “a certification of assessed competencies that is additional, alternate, complementary to, or a component of a formal qualification.”
The scan showed:
“a great interest in micro-credentials across Canada and a degree of agreement on the purpose, characteristics and value of micro-credentials. Respondents saw them as an important component of their range of programs and agree that they should be stackable, flexible, validated and accessible to vulnerable populations.”
In addition, respondents all stressed the importance of involving business and industry partners and the need for them “to become a recognized element in the offerings of colleges and institutes.”
Some Canadian guiding principles
They are that micro-credentials:
“.. can be a complement to traditional credentials (certificate, diploma, degree or post-graduate certificate) or stand alone,
… are subject to a robust and rigorous quality assurance process,
… may represent competencies identified by employers/industry sectors to meet employer needs,
… may provide [a] clear and seamless pathway across different credentials (both non-credit and credit) and may be stackable,
… are based on assessed proficiency in a competency, not on time spent learning,
… are secure, trackable, portable and competency is documented in students’ academic records”
And they need to follow institutional approval processes.
They have done a literature review based on information from Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Canadian perspectives.
It concludes that they help industry partners and the Canadian economy recover from the COVID pandemic and respond to the needs of the digital age. They are also “a way to offer training that is flexible and accessible to vulnerable groups who have been underrepresented in the education system.”
Moreover, Canadian “colleges and institutes do not see micro-credentials as a passing fad but as a type of training that can benefit their communities and institutions in the long term.”
The paper notes that:
“micro-credentials [are] evolving very rapidly and both quantitative and qualitative data presented in [their] report will certainly change in the months to come.”
“micro-credentials must be nimble and answer the needs of Canadians; it is therefore inherent in their definition that the framework will not be static.”
Finally, there needs to be a common discourse around micro-credentials, and an interest in collaboration between providers, “while also respecting regional differences and local requirements.”
This would be the story in Australia too, we suspect.