Microcredentials in Europe – Demand has led to a proliferation of unregulated certificates whose value is unclear

Microcredentials are not new. They have been in use in various countries and education and training sectors; they have played a role, among others, in the certification of IT courses or health workers’ professional development.

Microcredentials open the possibility for people to accumulate, or ‘stack’, different competences which can be documented and recognised by learning providers, employers, sectors, and across countries.
In Spain, microcredentials can be stacked and lead to a formal VET certificate under its new Organic Law for the Ordination and Integration of VET. Latvia’s new law also allows microcredentials to be accumulated towards a full qualification or to be used as stand-alone qualifications. In Denmark, labour market training courses offer various upskilling and reskilling courses. They are well-developed and rec- ognised and could potentially form the basis for initi- atives using microcredentials.

For the time being, there is no common European approach to microcredentials and the modularisation of VET programmes. Nonetheless, microcredentials have the potential to supplement formal education and training systems, which are sometimes regarded as too slow to respond to rapid changes in the labour market. The potential advantages of microcredentials, including their ‘stackability’, could be especially valuable for the EU’s transition to a green and digital economy and the new skill needs it is creating across traditional qualifications and sectors.

However, concerns remain. Demand for microcredentials has led to a proliferation of unregulated certificates whose value is unclear. Lack of transparency makes it difficult for people to make informed decisions about short learning programmes, especially where it is uncertain who guarantees the quality and recognition of the learning outcomes.

Private organisations may rely on their own practices to recognise knowledge, skills and competences, or use labour market standards different from those used in formal learning programmes. Not all microcredentials are compatible with NQFs and not all NQFs are open to non-formal and private sector qualifications. Without the same quality criteria and accreditation by formal education and training authorities, recognition of microcredentials and their accumulation towards a full formal qualification re-
mains problematic.

Some 88% of VET providers who responded to Cedefop’s study confirm that at least some of the microcredentials they offer can be accumulated and combined with other credentials and qualifications. However, stacking microcredentials awarded outside formal education and training is often limited to one provider. Nevertheless, in some countries, such as Ireland, microcredentials known as ‘vendor certifications’ have a high market value for entering or progressing in occupations in the ICT sector. Cedefop’s study shows, however, that for users to be able to accumulate or combine them towards a full qualification, microcredentials need to be accredited by authorities responsible for formal education and training and to meet verified quality criteria.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @  Briefing note – Are microcredentials becoming a big deal? | CEDEFOP


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