Micro-Credentialing: The Future of Education
Micro-credentialing is changing the future of education. Degrees are often held up as the standard or minimum requirement for many careers. However, degrees do not solve some of the major hiring quandaries.
An applicant with a bachelor’s degree from one university may be equally qualified for an entry-level job as an applicant from another university who received a degree in the same field. The problem is differentiation. How can employers determine which applicant is best qualified for a given role if all things appear to be equal? The rise of micro-credentialing may solve this common issue as we move towards a knowledge-based economy.
How Big Tech is Using Micro-Credentialing
The flexibility of micro-credentialing allows students with different levels of education to find employment within these fields with little to no previous work experience. These programs also help companies quickly build up teams with qualified workers at little cost. Micro-credentials are currently being used by many companies as a way to quickly train employees on new technologies or skillsets rather than relying on a degree from a four-year university. Big tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, and IBM have been actively engaged in micro-credentialing through their online courses which offer badges and certificates for completion.[i] These employers can easily train employees by having them take free online classes to learn new skills without the risk of investing time or money into hiring an employee who is unqualified or might leave after only six months due to lack of knowledge.
The first area that comes into play when discussing the importance of micro-credentials is our ever-changing economy. With advancements in technology and automation, it's becoming more common to see job postings requiring advanced skills such as coding or data analytics which don't necessarily require a traditional four-year degree.[ii] This is where micro-credentialing steps in; it allows students to seek certification or accreditation through online courses instead of having to attend a four-year university.
These are some of the hottest fields in the industry and recent college grads are often shut out as they lack the specific skills needed in a constantly shifting environment.[iii] Micro-credentialing provides students with opportunities for advanced skill building within their chosen fields while giving them the credit they need to apply for specific jobs without having previous work experience.
Micro-Credentialing for Students
Micro-credentials can provide students with the opportunity to learn specialized skills in a shorter period of time than traditional degrees, allowing them to compete in an ever-changing workforce. This provides students with unique opportunities within specific fields of study by offering credentials such as certificates, badges, and nanodegrees without requiring them to complete excessively long coursework. These options allow people to specialize in particular skills and receive recognition through micro-credentials, rather than one traditional degree which demonstrates only generalized knowledge.
Credentialing Could Replace Traditional Training and Degrees
Micro-credentialing is also a great option for students who already have a degree and want to learn new skills, or those looking at reentering the workforce after an extended absence. In addition, these programs are also beneficial to employers, who can use them as a means of assessing applicants’ qualifications and skillsets before offering employment opportunities.
The ability to offer micro-credentialing can also influence the way we understand on-boarding for employees. Instead of the series of tours, webinars, and shadowing that often comprise training, new employees could receive a micro-credential in the area the employer needs them most. Micro-credentials also offer the opportunity for workers with different skill sets, such as degrees in psychology or finance, to quickly re-focus their careers into more technical fields which they can then use towards employment.
Micro-credentials are certainly changing the future of education. The importance placed behind traditional degrees will diminish because industries are changing quickly enough that students are being prepared for careers that may not exist when they graduate.[iv] Micro-credentials will provide workers with the skills they need to be successful in today's economy. Organizations who wish to stay relevant in today’s market should ride this new wave or risk being left behind by it. Some of the same industry disruptions that have made micro-credentialing valuable have created a skills gap across industries.
Prometric administers more than 7 million exams annually to a variety of global clients. We support our clients' exam programs with “Assessments Anywhere,” providing the global reach and accessibility that serves candidates. Our security, proctoring, and administration protocols are consistent across any modality in which we deliver testing. Our test development process is backed by decades of psychometric solutioning experience. By leveraging our innovative solutions and extensive background, organizations can build, attractive micro-credentialing offerings for candidates seeking to grow their career.
This blog was written by Azadar Shah - Vice President, Prometric
[i] Horton, A. P. (2020). Could micro-credentials compete with traditional degrees? London: BBC. Retrieved from bbc.com/worklife/article/20200212-could-micro-credentials-compete-with-traditional-degrees
[ii] Smith, M. (2021, October). The 10 fastest-growing jobs of the next decade that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Retrieved from CNBC Make It: cnbc.com/2021/10/01/10-in-demand-jobs-of-the-decade-that-dont-require-a-bachelors-degree.html
[iii] Wilkie, D. (2019, October). Is the 4-Year College Model Broken? Retrieved from SHRM: shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/is-the-4-year-college-model-broken.aspx
[iv] Zao-Sanders, M., & Palmer, K. (2019, September). Why Even New Grads Need to Reskill for the Future. (H. B. Review, Ed.) Retrieved from hbr.org/2019/09/why-even-new-grads-need-to-reskill-for-the-future