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Micro-Credentials – What are They and How Can They Help Me?

by Alex Bonne
Welcome To 29

A Micro-Credential is a short, concentrated course or certificate that is focused on a particular skill or competency. Where a diploma typically focuses on a specific occupation and a degree is targeted to an area or topic, micro-credentials focus on specific “chunks” of knowledge. Colleges and Institutes Canada defines a Micro-Credential as “a certification of assessed competencies that is additional, alternate, complementary to, or a component of a formal qualification.”

Micro-credentials are recognized as a method to help fill the “skills gap” that many employers experience when hiring. They are designed by a school or training provider together with industry professionals to identify skills or competencies that are in-demand by employers. They are a quicker alternative to a traditional post-secondary Diploma or Degree programs, which can take 2-4 years to complete.
Micro-Credentials are driven by the principle of “lifelong learning”, a form of education that is driven by the student/worker, rather than an employer or education institution. The ownership falls to you as the learner to organize, plan, and strategize what you are studying. Lifelong learning may require formalized training at an education institution but can also incorporate knowledge gained through books or articles you read, workshops or conferences you attend; podcasts or videos that you listen to/watch.

The Province of Ontario recognizes Micro-Credentials as an option for rapid training to gain the skills that employers need. eCampus Ontario has developed a consistent framework for the province to guide training providers in creation of the credentials. eCampus Ontario outlines that “Micro-Credentials will be validated by industry partners/external bodies, where possible.” By doing this, job seekers can see that “1) the competency is in demand by industry” and “2) the established assessment is reflective of job performance in that industry”.

Micro-credentials have been granted for 36 colleges and universities across Ontario and are available in the following fields; Bookkeeping Essentials, Computer Support Service Essentials, Digital Marketing, Health Care Operations and Java Programming.