The landscape for learning is shifting. In response to the need for filling an increasing skills gap, governments, post-secondary institutions, and employers are coming together to provide specific training and learning opportunities through online learning. The concept and practice of online learning is not new.
All post-secondary institutions provide online courses, which are typically linked to a designated program of study. These courses are credit-bearing, in order to meet the requirements for graduation from the program. What is new, is the recent announcement by the provincial government in Ontario to offer ‘micro-credentials’ through partnerships with post-secondary institutions and employers, which provide specific, short-term, skills-focused, credit-bearing courses in an online setting.
The announcement of this pilot project allows for the recognition of skills development through an online learning platform and treats credentials from online courses as assessable and valuable by both employers and employees. In order to upgrade specific skills, an employee does not have to go back to school for a set number of years. Instead, they can complete specific courses in a much shorter time frame that bear the credible authority of the post-secondary institution.
In the field of human resources, for example, a working HR practitioner may want to focus on developing a specific skill set in workplace negotiations. They could access a short-term, skills-targeted course that is recognized as a legitimate credential, instead of just a professional development refresher.
The competition for online learning is fierce. Anyone can access open-source learning sites, such as opensource.com or LinkedIn Learning, which offer free courses to all in an online setting. The challenge that comes with these sites is the lack of recognition in the form of an accredited credential. Employers continue to look for the formal ‘seal of approval’ that comes from paying for accreditation, and outdated standards set by industry and institutional requirements.
- Based on your studies to date, do you see yourself continuing to learn through micro-skills development courses? Explain your rationale.
- Do you agree that skills development courses that provide a credential are beneficial in the current workforce? Explain your rationale.
- What types of industries would benefit from offering micro-credential programs to their employees for skills upgrading?