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A dramatic shift in education models
Digital transformation has revolutionized and reshaped the way we work.
The shift in the education models has given rise to new career paths. To leverage these emerging opportunities and further advance digitization for the future, employees must upgrade their current skillsets.
Market surveys have revealed that every company, regardless of industry, is focusing on integrating more and more digital technologies into their daily operations, which will automate many existing jobs and alter the nature of several others.
A shift in the model
The COVID-19 crisis forced every organization to accelerate their adoption of digital technology.
The changes anticipated over a decade suddenly became essential for the present and have been underway for the past two years. The rapid advancement also meant that the employees’ skill sets needed to be enhanced almost at the same pace.
Having observed this space closely over the last few years, we believe that nearly 80% of organizations struggle to find workers with the necessary talents. This acute skill gap is severely affecting practically every industry and organization.
These businesses state that the best way to address the talent shortage is to build the required skills within the organization.
While many businesses have begun to launch structured programs to reskill existing employees, the employees have also been looking for ways to reskill and upskill themselves to be eligible in this dynamic landscape.
While there are multiple formats of learning offered by both academia and corporates, such as long and short-term courses, there is the emergence of a new type of learning or skill development known as micro-credentials.
Micro-credentials offer a more effective way to broaden one’s skill set and stay up to date with relevant and emerging practices. These are concise, focused credentials designed to provide in-demand skills, know-how, and experience that can help individuals develop new skills and supplement existing ones.
Many reputed universities have started to offer micro-credentials through online courses alongside their traditional degree programs and certifications to make their educational offerings more industry-relevant for the current and future workforce.
Stakeholders in the micro-credentials ecosystem
The ecosystem comprises aspirational learners, academic institutions, core industries, and IT organizations.
These four primary stakeholders (as shown in Figure 1) are dependent on one another to generate maximum value from micro-credential courses.
Micro-credentials are proving to be quite beneficial for students seeking to enter high-value careers through unconventional routes. For instance, obtaining an engineering degree in the past required a student to complete four years of formal education. However, many employers now consider candidates who have acquired knowledge through various certificate courses in high-demand areas. Google has launched several courses under its Career Certificates program that enable candidates — even those with non-technical backgrounds — to acquire job-related skills in under six months.
Hence, people from business, arts, or other fields can gain technical expertise in a domain of their choice and find employment in large IT organizations or pursue relevant job opportunities in core industries, provided they can grasp technology-related competencies on par with a person from a technical background.
Teachers and professors at schools and universities are other groups of aspirational learners. They comprise an important cornerstone of our society. It is, therefore, crucial that academics have access to the latest information and trends, which they can pass on to their students.
The changing technology landscape and rise in demand for highly skilled resources is strengthening the bond between academia and industry. Academic institutions now closely follow industrial trends to customize their courses at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Alongside transforming their usual curriculum based on market demands, they also introduce micro-credential courses to benefit aspirational learners further.
All types of learners can gain from integrating micro-credentials into the traditional curriculum. Working professionals can choose a hybrid learning approach, attending classroom sessions at academic institutions on the weekends while completing the remaining coursework at home. Those enrolled in the universities' full-time degree programs have the option of pursuing a specific course independently. These students will have an edge during placements when companies visit the campus for recruitment.
Global trends reveal that students, besides their usual degree, want to obtain a direct industry-related micro-credential course certificate to stand out in the competitive job market. The availability of micro-credential courses is increasingly influencing students' decisions when choosing an academic institution. This thought process resonates with employers as well, further elevating the significance of micro-credential courses.
Every industry has seen a global talent shortage in recent years, and the gap has been increasingly widening with each passing year. Companies recruit qualified candidates from colleges and universities during placement drives. The need for the right resource has driven the industry to collaborate with academic institutions and co-create micro-credential courses.
Governments have also started to enter into similar partnerships with colleges to cater to the burgeoning resource needs.
IT organizations are enabling educational institutions with better data insights and an agile infrastructure, that is paving the way for new strategic thinking and better imparting of knowledge. Digital technologies like AI, cloud computing, data analytics, and others are helping academic institutions to optimize their overall operations related to offering micro-credential courses.
The infrastructure for offering micro-credential courses broadly comprises two parts: the learning management system (LMS) and the assessment system, which helps in evaluating an individual based on what the person has learned from micro-credential courses.
LMS helps control the distribution of educational and training programs. By making it possible for educational institutions and students to track progress systematically, it provides an agile learning methodology. Easy access to the latest information on any subject leads to a conducive learning environment.
After the knowledge is delivered through the assessment platform, educational institutions can assess every individual and gauge their progress. This assessment can take place in many ways, such as short quizzes, multiple-choice questions, and even extensive examinations.
To support the smooth operation of the above processes, micro-credential courses need to be available to everyone, regardless of their location. Here, cloud technology plays a crucial role. Course materials are uploaded to the cloud database, which can then be accessed from anywhere.
The assessment platform can also be used to survey students about the course’s delivery, how they find it, and what content needs to be changed. To create relevant courses in line with market trends, the platform analyses various insights obtained from the students as they complete the micro-credential courses. The observations also give an idea about the personalities and mindsets of the students.
Each course material is carefully prepared because every institution wants to offer something unique as a micro-credential course. The institutions often compete with one another to provide the best course. Hence, it is also crucial to protect online course materials, which is where the need for cybersecurity comes into play.
IT organizations and institutions must ensure learners get uninterrupted access to the learning materials.