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Plugging Skills Gaps With Digital Learning and Micro-Credentials

Continuous learning and ongoing professional development are facts of working life. Gone are the days when qualifications gained at school and through higher education languished in CVs as the only proof of a person’s attained skills. Now, people upskill and reskill on an ongoing basis. They don’t just record their achievements in a rarely updated CV either; they share them digitally through professional profiles on employment-oriented online services .  

Upskilling a remote workforce 

By providing learning opportunities, employers benefit from the enhanced skills that employees gain. While some accreditation programmes will be lengthy, many skills are also gained through smaller, bitesized learning. Through digital learning, employees can dip into training as and when it suits them, from any location and a range of devices. As higher levels of home working continue, this is especially useful for employees and L&D teams striving to maintain upskilling initiatives without face-to-face instruction or interaction.  

An employee may gain additional skills in a variety of application software, increase their understanding of a topic by attending webinars and working through video material, or complete a course on creative problem-solving. Accessed and managed through the learning platform, the employee’s progress is visible to programme administrators, who have an organisation-wide view of training undertaken and achievements gained. 

Micro-credentials 

Employees can also exhibit the ongoing professional development they have pursued through micro-credentials. Micro-credentials are a representation of a competency or achievement earned through participation, progression, completion, and demonstration of learning. These are created using the Open Badges specification managed and advanced by the IMS Global Learning Consortium.  

Badges can be verified by the issuing institution and can be shared across a variety of platforms, such as portfolios and social media, and with any individuals or institutions the owner chooses. A far cry from a static CV.  

Badges contain information about how the learner achieved the badge, who issued it, and what evidence is available to demonstrate the skill. This is particularly relevant for competencies such as leadership, problem-solving and customer service, where the demonstration is in the ‘doing’. These skills are often less ‘visible’ compared to technical accreditations. They’re also most likely gained over time, with on-the-job practical implementation and a range of formal and informal learning opportunities contributing to honing of the skill.  

What are the benefits of micro-credentials? 

For employees: 

  • Visible, transportable accreditation that demonstrates a skill set and commitment to ongoing development 
  • An incentive to continue learning to add to the accreditations. 

For employers: 

  • Insight into workforce skills at an individual and organisational level 
  • An increase in course completion and engagement as employees are spurred on through badge attainment 
  • A visible culture of learning both inside and outside the organisation, which is central to retaining existing talent and attracting new employees 
  • A roadmap for career progression as micro-credentials tied to competencies for projects and new roles provide employees with an understanding of what they need to do to succeed. 

Micro-credentials support bite-sized learning with competency-based tuition helping to build a range of skills, the attainment of which can be demonstrated through badges. Together with the digital learning platform, they can help employees and employers plug skills gaps, foster a culture of continuous learning and clearly align required development with particular roles.  

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