Micro credentials

Apr 7, 2023 Career

Micro credentials are attracting increasing attention as a means of obtaining recognition of existing skills or completing targeted training in specific areas, especially where skills are not covered by current university courses.

Micro credentials and Employability form one of the five pillars being pursued by The Australian Council of Professions, alongside Education, Accreditation, Professionalism and Ethics, and Diversity, Culture and Inclusion.

Developments are following two tracks:

  1. Short courses, where candidates complete a structured training course and complete an assessment to demonstrate competence and requisite knowledge in the field; and,
  2. Recognition of knowledge gained through industry experience, which again involves demonstration of acquired knowledge.

Recognition is being provided by universities, accredited commercial education providers and, increasingly, by professional associations. Universities are going as far as recognising micro credentials as prerequisites or as credits for enrolment or the award of higher degree qualifications.

The issue is particularly relevant to Australian geoscience at present, with a number of universities replacing courses in geology and geophysics with more broadly based courses in Earth, Environmental and Planetary Science. These courses have been criticised widely as not providing an adequate understanding of geology and geological processes in particular, and for not delivering “industry-ready” graduates. Who, really, would seriously claim that they did not learn enormously in their first years of employment? The real test should arguably be whether graduates have knowledge of scientific investigation and methods that underpin “good science” where hypotheses developed are adequately tested.

Micro credentials are, however, reinvigorating the concept of experiential learning which appears to have lost support, particularly as a pathway to professional association membership, in recent years. A number of professional associations have also introduced more specific education requirement, where membership[ applicants need to provide academic transcripts that demonstrate completion of requisite subjects in their degree courses. This requirement has existed in Canada for PGeo registration for a number of years.

The micro credential concept is in its infancy, but it seems to offer a credible means for professionals to expand their opportunities by demonstrating skills in areas of direct interest to employers.

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