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Role of micro-credentials in upskilling or reskilling EU employees

NEWS | Role of micro-credentials in upskilling or reskilling EU employees

Role of micro-credentials in upskilling or reskilling EU employees

The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training [CEDEFOP] has launched a new study on the role of micro-credentials in upskilling or reskilling in a fast-changing work environment.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the trend of digitalisation of labour markets and the automation of production systems. Recognising the resulting higher demand for digital and related skills, the 2020 European Skills Agenda focuses on targeted policies that can facilitate the upskilling and reskilling of EU citizens.

The need for individuals to re-evaluate their career prospects and engage in continuing vocational education and training is more pronounced in times of economic and social volatility, especially in the face of furlough or redundancy. Interest in continuing learning has surged during the pandemic, particularly through online sources.

With growing consensus on the need for more responsive education, training and learning systems that allow individuals to upskill and retrain in quicker and more flexible ways, alternative credentials have come under the spotlight. Although qualifications and degrees from initial education and training still play a key role, alternative credentials (including digital badges, micro-credentials, nano-credentials, minor awards, etc.) are seen as necessary to make existing qualifications and credentials systems better fit for purpose. This priority was acknowledged in the 2020 European Skills Agenda which is calling for a European approach to micro-credentials.

What are micro-credentials?

A micro-credential is a proof of the learning outcomes that a learner has acquired following a short, transparently-assessed learning experience. They are awarded upon the completion of short stand-alone courses (or modules) done on-site or online (or in a blended format).

Flexible learning

Micro-credentials open education up to more people because of their flexible, short-term nature. They are open to all types of learners. They can be particularly helpful for people who:

  • are looking to build on their current knowledge rather than get a full degree;
  • want to bridge a gap between degrees or their initial formal education and emerging labour market skills;
  • want to upskill or reskill.

Wide-reaching benefits

Micro-credentials make education more inclusive, as it is accessible to all types of learners through its flexible and short-term approach. A larger uptake of micro-credentials could foster educational and economic innovation and contribute to a sustainable post-pandemic recovery.

The short courses can be provided by higher and vocational education and training institutions, as well as by different types of private entities, as a quick response to labour market needs for specific skills. This is particularly relevant given the challenges posed by the economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the final report “A European Approach on micro-credentials” here.