With the adoption of a “Recommendation on a European approach to micro-credentials for lifelong learning and employability” by the Council of the European Union in June 2022, the recognition of micro-credentials across institutions, businesses, sectors, and borders has changed (European Education Area, 2022). Micro-credentials or short programmes, as they tended to be called, were not really offered by academic institutions that were dedicating all efforts to developing undergraduate or postgraduate programmes. Post-graduate certificates and diplomas were the only shorter substitutes for bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes, however, even these require extensive time investments.
However, the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the digital and green transitions have accelerated the pace of change in how we live, learn, and work. They have also highlighted the need for people to be better equipped to deal with current and future challenges, respond to the needs of a fast-changing society and labour market, and be able to fill the gaps between their formal education and training.
Are we approaching a crisis on labour market?
One of the major challenges facing European businesses and employers these days is an insufficient supply of relevant skills in the EU labour market as well as unprecedented changes in how work is organised (including hybrid work, distance work). In addition, changing fundamentally task profiles and skills requirements, due to the digital and green transitions, only trigger individuals towards upgrading their competencies. Looking at these dynamic changes, taking a regular academic degree course that lasts 2-3 years on average is not an optimal solution as the need for additional competencies is now. More importantly, academic programmes are designed in a way that does not allow students to design the curriculum according to their own specific needs (usually, the choice is limited to a few elective modules).
As a response to the needs of the current job market, progressing transitioning between jobs, expanding sectors and demographic aging, the continuous need for upskilling and reskilling for workers is essential. The main struggle here is a very traditional educational system that does not support flexibility, learner-centered solutions, and inclusive learning to a wider range of profiles. Non-formal providers of education and professional trainings are definitely more progressive in new and innovative opportunities for upskilling and reskilling, however, lack the global recognition and trust in quality university name hold.
The idea behind offering proper recognition to micro-credentials is to certify the outcomes of small, tailored learning experiences allowing individuals to fill the skill gaps they need to succeed in a fast-changing environment, while not replacing traditional qualifications. Micro-credentials are to complement existing qualifications, providing added value while not undermining the core principle of full degree programmes.
Smaller learning units can help learners to develop or update their cultural, professional, and transversal skills and competencies at various stages in their lives and due to the required time invested in their completion cater to the diverse individual needs, abilities, and capacities of learners (this may include new student orientation or support the school-to-work transition).
Finally, micro-credentials support inclusion and accessibility to education and training for a wider range of learners, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, the elderly, low-qualified/skilled people, minorities, people with a migrant background, refugees and people with fewer opportunities because of their geographical location and/or their socioeconomically disadvantaged situation.
Integration of micro-credentials
As stated by the Council of the European Union, one of the major opportunities for integrating micro-credentials in national qualifications frameworks and systems is the fact that it can underpin the goals of the Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027 to help provide flexible, accessible learning opportunities for digital skills; and deliver on the targets of the Commission’s ‘2030 Digital Compass’ plan to develop a digitally skilled population and highly skilled digital professionals in Europe by 2030. Micro-credentials could also play a role in delivering on the European Green Deal, which is Europe’s growth strategy aiming to transform its economy and society and put them on a more sustainable path (Council of the European Union, 2022).
As we witness the change in the recognition micro-credentials – the growing number of academic institutions add micro-credentials to their programme offer, the decision to integrate micro-credentials in regional and national frameworks or systems is made by national authorities or institutions in line with national circumstances. However, if we look at micro-credentials as a tool to strengthen and complement existing learning opportunities, increase participation in lifelong learning and help reach the target of 60 % of all adults participating in training every year as set out in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, the chances for positive consideration grow with each objective they meet.
- enabling individuals to acquire, update and improve the knowledge, skills and competences they need to thrive in an evolving labour market and society, to benefit fully from a socially fair recovery and transitions to the green and digital economy and to be better equipped to deal with current and future challenges;
- enhancing the quality, transparency, accessibility and flexibility of the learning offering in order to empower individuals to forge personalised learning and career pathways;
- fostering inclusiveness, access and equal opportunities and contributing to the achievement of resilience, social fairness and prosperity for all, in a context of demographic and societal changes and throughout all phases of economic cycles (Council of the European Union, 2022).
Find My Programme-our response to learners’ needs
We at Find My Programme respond to learners’ needs and are trying to incorporate into our offer courses and qualifications that are in demand. Among micro-credential qualifications, we added 12 courses offered by The Essex Online, and further enriched the offer of professional qualifications offered by The Corporate Governance Institute adding a series of fast-track courses.
Micro-credentials delivered by the Essex University Online award you with 20 academic credits on successful completion, which you can transfer on to a Post Graduate Certificate, Post Graduate Diploma, or full Masters’s degree, should you wish to further continue your education. They are offered in three disciplines: business, IT and health.
Short professional courses delivered by The Corporate Governance Institute offer qualifications in the field of ESG, Corporate Governance, business leadership. The choice varies depending on the preferred qualification level, which determines course duration (from 1-day courses, through fast track certificates of 4-month duration, up to 6 months-long diplomas). Diplomas are Glasgow Caledonian University credit rated, and all of the courses are carefully designed by leading industry experts and recognizable worldwide.
Feel free to check the offer of both institutions and request consultation should you need to find out more or be doubtful about which qualification is best for you. We are here to listen to you and to support you through your educational journey.
Council of the European Union (2022) Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a European approach to micro-credentials for lifelong learning and employability- Adoption Available on: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9237-2022-INIT/en/pdf (Accessed: June 5th, 2023)
European Education Area (2023) A European approach to micro-credentials. Flexible, inclusive learning opportunities. Available on: https://education.ec.europa.eu/education-levels/higher-education/micro-credentials (Accessed: June 5th, 2023)