Microcredentials – what are these?

April 5, 2022 | xpath.global

The potential of microcredentials to improve employment prospects by fitting labour market demands was the focus of a European Commission webinar where European Center for the Development of Vocational Training’s project on microcredentials was presented.

European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas: “Microcredentials are shorter, more customised courses and we need with this proposal to ensure that we create a European ecosystem around them. We need to stimulate the offer, to stimulate the demand and to promote knowledge, skills and competences, preparedness to be able to provide microcredentials, and equal opportunities, which is a constant priority in this area.”

Are microcredentials a new opportunity for lifelong learning?

First of all the European Commission needs to define better “microcredentials”, with the help of Member States, which should agree on:

  • a common definition of microcredentials;
  • standard elements for their description; and
  • key principles for their design and issuance.

The joint Advisory Committee for Vocational Training (ACVT) and Directors General for Vocational Education (DGVT) webinar, on 26 January, highlighted Cedefop’s findings on microcredentials as a facilitator for learning for employment.

The study attempts to provide a better understanding of the role played by microcredentials, as an education, training and learning element, in supporting labour-market related and employment-relevant training. It aims to offer new knowledge on the characteristics of microcredentials, their added value to individual learners and employees, as well as their impact on existing qualifications and recognition systems.

Cedefop expert Anastasia Pouliou, the study’s coordinator, presented the interim findings of the methodological tools employed so far (namely the stakeholder group survey, the extensive interview programme and the eight case studies). She highlighted the uncertainty linked to the naming and function of microcredentials but also the need for a wider awareness of their use and potential in boosting lifelong learning.

Flexibility and responsiveness to labour market needs stand out as the most prevalent benefits of microcredentials, however, more work needs to be done on building trust, as those more trusted are linked to formal, nationally recognised qualifications, noted Ms Pouliou.

ACVT/DGVT members welcomed the study, providing constructive feedback both to Cedefop (European Center for the Development of Vocational Training) and the Commission. They also shared their concerns towards the danger of overregulation and bureaucratisation of the continuing education market.

Source: European Center for the Development of Vocational Training, January 2022

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