Public perception of traditional college along, with the need for upskilling and reskilling, could drive increased demand for microcredentials

Microcredentials are poised for great growth in the global economy


Public perception of traditional college along, with the need for upskilling and reskilling, could drive increased demand for microcredentials

Editor’s note: eCampus News is exploring the future and potential of microcredentials in a multi-story series. Check back each week for fresh perspectives from educators and industry experts.

Microcredentials aren’t new, but their potential is growing–and, in some cases, they may grow to be a preferred form of postsecondary education and training.

Microcredentialing is among one of EDUCAUSE’s six key technologies and practices identified in its 2022 Horizon Report as having a significant impact on the future of postsecondary teaching and learning.

Panelists highlighted the connections between the goals and work of higher ed and the demands and needs of professional industries and the workforce. The demand for upskilling and reskilling, driven in part by the growth of data- and analytics-based jobs, is also supporting the potential of microcredentials‘ impact.

The public perception of a traditional college degree could be contributing to the growth of microcredentials. Views of the value of a traditional degree have been declining, and major corporations including Google have announced in recent years that will not require college degrees for employment. Criticisms of student loans and the massive amount of debt students incur before they even begin earning salaries also are influencing how people view microcredentialing programs.

“As we observe these declines in the value of the traditional degree, we can also observe trends that suggest a rise in the value and appear of microcredentials and other more bit-sized certification and competency-based education and training models,” according to the Horizon Report.

Because consumers–and students should be thought of as consumers–expect near-instant access to resources and services when needed, microcredentials and their as-needed format fit consumers’ need for “smaller and even noninstitutional learning experiences tailored to their interests and needs.”

The report outlines areas where higher-ed institutions can create and support successful microcredentialing programs:

Online and hybrid capabilities: “As institutions develop online and hybrid formats, they are becoming well-positioned for success in offering microcredentialing programs. Coupling online and remote modes with microcredentialing will yield the agility and flexibility institutions need to serve learners with modular, just-in-time training and reskilling opportunities.”

Connections to industry and the workforce: “Microcredentialing programs–with their practical focus on skills and competencies–can help instructors, students, and advisors establish clearer linkages between students’ curricular goals and the skills needed for job placement and success in the workforce of the future.”

The report also offers a brief look at microcredentials in practice:

Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship Academy (i.d.e.a.) Badge Pathways: i.d.e.a. injects innovation into the student experience through experiential learning pathways organized around research, design, and entrepreneurship. The pilot lets students stack experiences with badge pathways, developing innovation-specific skill sets.

HEaRT: Higher Education and Real-World Training: HEaRT is a free experiential learning opportunity for Southern New Hampshire University online learners to develop 21st-century workforce skills. Global learners work in diverse teams to address real-world issues presented by employer partners and industry leaders. Successful participants earn a digital badge after each challenge completion and mastery of competencies.

edubadges: Issuing Digital Certificates to Students: SURF is offering an infrastructure that allows Dutch educational institutions to issue edubadges, digital credentials for both curricular and extracurricular activities. The need to make knowledge and skills transparent and to support lifelong learning were major drivers in the development.

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Laura Ascione

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