New research on upskilling and microcredentials shows how to create opportunities for stronger skills development for U.S. workers.

U.S. workers need clarity on microcredentials for upskilling


New research on continuous upskilling shows room for cross-sector cooperation to build better opportunities for skills development

Key points:

  • Microcredentials play a key part in upskilling U.S. workers, but not everybody understands their function or importance
  • Workers are generally interested in job-related education or training, and their interest grows with age
  • See related article: Workforce training, upskilling in demand among younger adults

American workers are struggling to locate relevant microcredential programs, and they often don’t understand how microcredentials relate to career advancement, according to Enabling Learning for Life: New Realities for Work and Education, a new report released by D2L at D2L Fusion’s Executive Summit.

The report indicates that American workers want to learn, but continuous upskilling is still not the norm, despite its critical importance in economic environment of accelerating technological change.

“We know how important learning is to both individuals and organizations to stay competitive, but we can also see that workers are still finding the micro-credential environment difficult to navigate,” says John Baker, CEO of D2L. “Collectively, we’ve made great strides in bringing high-quality education opportunities closer to the workers that need them to develop their skills, including with new technology. Together with organizations and higher education partners, we will keep working to make micro-credentials accessible, make their adoption frictionless, and make employee progress easier to track, for far greater overall impact.”

D2L found that among U.S. workers surveyed, only about one-third (35 percent) had taken any professional development education or training over the previous year, but they are generally interested in doing so – and that interest grows with age.

While microcredentials are increasingly helpful in providing targeted skills development options for working adults, D2L found little awareness of microcredentials, nor of their value, among those U.S. workers surveyed.

A quarter of workers polled (25 percent) said they were not sure where to find providers that offer microcredentials, and nearly the same proportion said they were unsure how a microcredential could help them progress in their career.

Many American workers said that they are looking for an easy way to find and compare upskilling programs—even more than they are seeking more financial support. And roughly two in five respondents said they would like to take those courses online.

Enabling Learning for Life: New Realities for Work and Education offers recommendations for employers, higher education institutions, and governments to make continuous upskilling simpler and more accessible.

For corporations and institutions, those include making further investments in continuing education and skills development, pooling resources, and creating new partnerships. And for governments, recommendations included introducing supportive policies including incentives and financial supports.

This press release originally appeared online.

Related: 3 ways digital credentials motivate and engage students

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