EXECUTIVE EDUCATION

Why microcredentials will accelerate career upskilling

SOURCE: Fernando Leon/Getty Images/AFP
These bite-sized courses allows professionals to gain key industry skills at their own pace.


By U2B Staff 

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Microdegrees or microcredentials go by different names but all serve the same purpose of providing targeted upskilling opportunities required by the industry. 

Depending on the provider, they may be known as nanodegrees, microcertifications or digital badges. These are essentially short skill-based online courses that are accredited and recognised by top employers across the globe. 

As we are now facing unprecedented times where there is an influx of digital communicative tools to replace face-to-face meetings, now is the perfect time for executives to gain industry-relevant skills online to enhance their careers. 

True to their name, microcredentials are bite-sized courses where users can pick and choose specific skills they want to learn. 

These are equivalent to fully-fledged degrees provided by universities in terms of accreditation and value but they take half the amount of time to complete. You won’t need three whole years to complete a microcredential course.  

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Flexible options 

Microcredentials offer the same learning outcomes as a regular on-site qualification you would gain at a university. 

The big difference is you get to choose what you learn and, thanks to the availability of online microcredential courses, you get to decide when you learn and at what pace. 

At this point, many microcredential providers offer various professional development micro-courses that are fueled by industry needs. These providers partner with universities and leading corporations to deliver the most relevant upskilling opportunities for professionals. 

There are many options to choose from based on your professional needs. The following are popular microcredential providers: 

Each provider has their own way of delivering microcredential programmes. EdX, for instance, provides MicroMasters programmes which can be done online and provide opportunities to apply for a full taught masters programme at the partnered university. 

Meanwhile, Udacity’s Nanodegrees are more skills-based and are informed by industrial partners. 

General Assembly and EDUCAUSE also provide more skills-centric professional development credentials that also provide support to build your career. 

upskilling
It’s easy to manage your time while upskilling online. Source: Behrouz Mehri/AFP.

Valuable upskilling to meet industry demands

Because microcredentials are becoming increasingly recognised among corporations, they have become viable options to develop the latest and most relevant skills according to industry needs. 

Many employers even choose to send their teams for these courses as professional development training. 

For example, according to Udacity Chief Product Officer Alper Tekin, the online course provider’s Nanodegree programme is backed and built through partnerships with key industry players. This ensures the curriculum delivers the latest industry-relevant skills. 

Microcredentials offer a variety of programmes that target different industries. 

Ranging from industry-specific skills such as machine learning, cybersecurity, front-end development to more general interdisciplinary skills such as leadership and management and data analytics, there will definitely be something to gain from these courses. 

Considering that these courses take up less time than a professional or postgraduate degree and are honed in on specific skills, microcredentials are definitely options worth exploring for those who are sure about the skills they want to learn or enhance. 

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A balance of work and studies

As most of these microcredential programmes are carried out online, especially during the current lockdown period, much of the course content can be accessed anywhere and at any time. 

Depending on the course structure which may entail peer work or video seminars, most of these are also flexible so participants can choose the pace of their studies. This allows them to balance their time between professional development and work (especially with work from home arrangements). 

This is a flexible solution for the upskilling of executives to enhance their careers without disrupting their daily work productivity. 

Given the current situation, this is the best opportunity to utilise time at home to work on professional skills development and these micro-programmes just may be the quickest and most time-saving way to hone your skills for further career development.