In November 2020, South Australia’s Training and Skills Commission released a report summarising findings of their consultation on micro-credentials.

The Commission is now welcoming applications for new micro-credentials from industry and their tertiary education partners.

What the consultations found

The report suggests that micro-credentials need to be accredited and, where possible, aligned with the Australian Qualifications Framework. They should also be co-designed or endorsed by industry so that they are seen as industry relevant and allow for worker mobility. In addition, they “may have a role in compulsory professional development and for professional practices which allows for growth.” Thus, they need to be certified and recognised so that they can be “portable, stackable and transferable to support learners to pivot between and across VET, universities and workplaces.”

While the policy respects the role of industry qualifications on the national register – – it signals a break-out from the national qualification system for VET, or at least, a move to alternatives.

And there are guidelines too!

Part of TASC’s website focuses on micro-credentials and provides a set of endorsement  guidelines, as well as a checklist for endorsement and a set of FAQ’s. The endorsement process is guided by five key principles, which are that there is:

  1. An “industry recognised skills gap unable to be met through the current nationally accredited training systems
  2. Certification of a person’s learning outcomes, including skills and competencies that reflect elements of licensing and other regulatory requirements (local, national and international) or contemporary industry practices
  3. Assessment of learning outcomes that include core transferable skills and core job-specific skills required for job roles as identified by industry
  4. Support for people to adapt to changing job roles and workplaces, and/or to transition to a new industry
  5. Supportive pathways between the school, vocational education and higher education sectors and which can also provide a pathway to accredited courses.”

Endorsed micro-credentials can be delivered by Registered Training Organisations, other education providers and/or industry partners.

The approach offers an opportunity to blend accredited and non-accredited training. DIS offers support to work with ASQA to formalise the learning as an accredited course if that is needed by industry.

Others have noted that “recognition and quality assurance, the protection for students and employers most cited as the rate limiting factor for non-accredited micro-credentials, is also dealt with. Graduating students are ‘issued with a certificate that indicates successful completion of the course endorsed by the Commission’, the guidelines state.  Any credential endorsed by the Commission needs to cover the expected outcomes, assessment methodology and quality measures, assumed to be built off the back of an education and training provider’s capabilities.”

The signals have been clear for some time that a more flexible approach to qualification development and delivery is required. Players in the national VET system, including industry and other stakeholders, are looking to alternatives to the national system of industry qualifications and the heavy compliance that follows. The SA model for micro-credentials focuses “on encouraging people to gain the contemporary skills, knowledge and attributes needed to support the development of more competitive businesses and engage in lifelong learning.”

“This will promote the upskilling and reskilling of transitioning workers, improve work readiness and allow for additional skills and knowledge outside formal qualifications,” said a Commission spokesperson.