As workers shift their careers to fill gaps in the labour market, they are using micro-credentials more than ever before. Alberta post-secondary institutions are responding by offering many opportunities to earn micro-credentials.
With online learning now so common and easy to access, many learners have the skills and technology they need to pick up micro-credentials no matter where they live.
What is a micro-credential?
Micro-credentials are rapid training programs or courses that colleges, universities, and companies offer to help you get skills employers want.
No definition exists for how long micro-credentials take to earn, the amount of content they cover, or how they’re assessed. But, learning institutions and industry generally agree on a few key facts:
- You earn a micro-credential when you complete an assessment for a skill or competency.
- The training period is brief.
- The training is designed to help you get or keep a job.
How micro-credentials can boost your career
For many years, the tech sector was the industry using micro-credentials to add to workers’ post-secondary learning. Now, other industries are moving toward them as well.
Here are some of the benefits of micro-credentials:
- Rapid learning. Micro-credentials usually take far less time to earn than a degree or diploma. This helps you improve your skills to meet industry needs.
- Affordable format. Because you don’t have to take a 4-year degree, micro-credentials are cost-effective.
- Skill building. Micro-credentials let you “ladder” your skills. They add to your old learning rather than replace it. This helps you further your career or pivot to a new one.
- Industry approval. Universities and colleges often develop micro-credentials with input from industry. This means what you learn is relevant to the industry you already work in or are hoping to join.
- Ease of access. Often, you can earn micro-credentials online. You may not have to attend a course or fit a schedule.
- Practicality. When you earn a micro-credential, you may do some practical on-the-job training.
Use micro-credentials to “stack” your skills
Research tells us executives are having a hard time finding workers with the right skills. In response, people are changing how they use post-secondary education to build and shift their careers. Instead of post-secondary being a one-time event in a person’s life, some learners are now using it as a lifelong journey.
By earning micro-credentials at key points, workers can follow non-linear career paths. Young people in particular are stacking their skills, which means they learn multiple skills to become more marketable, adaptable, and resilient in the workplace.
Micro-credential learning is about building on the skills you already have. The trick is to know your career goals and carefully choose which micro-credentials will help get you there. By doing this, you can either pivot your career or move into a “hybrid” role. Here are some examples:
- You are a government employee who wants to become your organization’s privacy analyst or privacy compliance officer.
- You have a business degree and want skills in coding or management training.
- You are a roofer who wants to specialize in solar roof installations.
- You are an operations manager who wants to spearhead a machine learning initiative at your company.
In all these cases, micro-credentials can give you the knowledge and career boost you’re looking for.
Choose from a wide range of courses
Micro-credentials are available across a wide range of occupations. Here are a few examples:
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence
- Intelligent supply chain
- Leadership in future technology
- Permaculture design
- Solar energy
- Strategic sustainability and sustainable energy technology
- Creative industry talent accelerator
- Health technology
- Software engineering
- Tourism and hospitality management
- Data privacy and security
- Blockchain fundamentals
- Early learning and childcare
Alberta is a leader in micro-credential learning
The Government of Alberta is working with industry and post-secondary institutions to lean into micro-credentials as a way to gain skills.
Some post-secondary institutions have offices set up for this purpose. Many more offer individual micro-credential programs in areas as diverse as IT skills, animation, and childcare. Try these links for more information and to access micro-credential learning in Alberta:
- Alberta University of the Arts
- Bow Valley College
- Concordia University of Edmonton
- Keyano College
- Medicine Hat College
- Mount Royal University
- Norquest College
- Northwestern Polytechnic
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
- Olds College
- Portage College
- Quick Train Canada
- Red Deer Polytechnic
- University of Alberta
Experts agree that micro-credentials will not take over traditional credentials. In most cases, they add to them. By identifying your career goals and using micro-credentials to move toward the career you want, you can enjoy the benefits of gaining knowledge across many skills and disciplines.