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How micro-credentials can help close the skills gap for good

Skills gaps continue to be a huge issue in a wide range of industries, particularly those that involve rapidly changing technology including digital marketing, web design, and UX. 

A study by Gartner found that 58 percent of employees felt that they needed new skills in order to successfully do their work.

Add to this the loss of skilled migration, international students, backpackers, and other workers in Australia as a result of the pandemic, and businesses around the country are struggling to match the right skills to the right roles. 

Enter: micro-credentials. Micro-credentials are bite-sized chunks of education that take place outside of the traditional university setting. Whether via an online course, bootcamp certificate or apprenticeship, specialty provider, or online learning platforms such as Learning Vault, short courses are fast becoming a vital addition to CVs across a range of industries. 

With many university courses failing to keep up with the rapid pace of change in industries like product design, UX, and web development, micro-credentials are a realistic alternative for many – whether they’re just starting out in their careers, or are looking for a career change. 

Unlike a university degree, micro-credentials are flexible, adaptable, and often can be completed in a student’s chosen time frame. Online learning programs allow both students and teachers to track the students’ progress through the course material, with clear goalposts and tasks along the way. Subjects can range from broad topics such as coding, to more narrow focusses such as how to train your staff on a particular piece of software. 

Whatever the chosen subject, short-courses benefit both employers and employees. Employees are able to equip themselves with a wide range of employable skills, and employers are able to hire talent that fits perfectly into their specific range of needs. It’s a win-win.

Tracking microcredentials through digital badges

While accreditation for most degrees is widely recognised and understood, the wide range of short courses available can make adding them to CVs and online resumes a challenge. How can employers trust the legitimacy of the wide range of courses, or tell the difference between a one day course and one that took several months to complete? Luckily, a new era of digital badging technology is stepping in to help. 

Digital badges are a virtual acknowledgement of an earned credential, demonstrated skill or professional achievement. They’re a simple, secure way to share verified achievements or activities with businesses, employers, organisations, or through personal social media accounts. 

The digital credential contains secure ‘metadata’ about the student and their activity or achievements, including the issuing organisation or authority, date issued, expiry date, and a description of the unique information behind the credential being issued. 

When a student completes a short course or micro credential and is awarded their digital credential, this can be stored in their very own digital passport, or ‘backpack’, which is a digital portfolio containing an individual’s earned credentials. 

Digital credentials can be shared anywhere online, including their digital CV, providing instant verification of your credentials, qualifications, experience and skills. Potential employers can quickly and easily verify their credentials, adding an extra layer of transparency and trust.

Credentials are stored in a digital passport or portfolio that can then be shared confidentially with businesses, employers or organisations that need to know, or publicly via social media, email, or text message. A good digital credential system should be secure, verifiable, flexible and shareable, with encrypted data stored on secure local servers so that credentials cannot be copied or tampered with in any way.

Eventually, blockchain technology will be built into digital credentials, giving HR teams the ability to verify quickly and easily, adding an extra layer of transparency and trust. Blockchain means digital credentials are private, cannot be tampered with, and remain in the ledger permanently. In fact, the University of Melbourne has been using blockchain to issue its digital credentials since 2017. 

With so many businesses clamouring for high quality talent, the case for short courses and microcredentials is clear. Let’s look beyond traditional bachelors degrees, and start assessing talent by a broader range of skills and knowledge. With the technology now in place to make this long-held dream a reality, it’s time to close the skills gap for good. 

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Nicholas Robert

Nicholas Robert

Nicholas Robert is the co-founder and CEO at Australian digital credentialing agency Learning Vault. Nicholas has extensive experience within the edutech and management consultancy sectors, including a deep knowledge of compliance, technology, and customisation.

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