Hiring trends show microcredentials are increasing in demand

Microcredentials can help to reduce student debt.

By U2B Staff 

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Microcredentials, microdegrees, and even nanodegrees can be classified as stackable, bite-sized qualifications that can be accrued alongside a degree or masters programme or consumed as single-units of study.

Generally intended for professionals, microcredentials are cost-effective, skill-based qualifications designed to provide knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Microcredentials are offered in various fields of study, including professionals who are working towards an MBA. Other popular fields of study include business analytics, accounting, cybersecurity, leadership, and even accounting.

These stackable mini-qualifications comprise of digital badges, web badges, nanodegrees, mini-degrees, and micro-certifications and can be completed quite quickly, sometimes in as quickly as a month.

Professionals are attracted to these cost-effective qualifications due to their flexible nature. Professionals also benefit from the quick upskilling delivered through these short qualifications giving them a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced business landscape.


Microcredentials offer immediate value to current employers and demonstrate mastery of in-demand skills to potential future employers

A recent study published by Northeastern University found that the relative value of educational credentials in hiring has been stable at 29% and even increased by 48% for most employers over the last five years.

This development signifies a shift in employer and hiring sentiment that once preferred long term degree or master’s level qualifications.

However, employer awareness and experience with candidates who hold non-degree microcredentials is still relatively low, as microcredentials are typically viewed as supplements rather than substitutes for traditional degrees.

On a more positive note, employer awareness and interest are shaping up rapidly due to an increase in MOOCs and new credential offerings.

In fact, statistics seem even more promising, 64% of HR leaders believe that in the future, the need for continuous lifelong learning will demand higher levels of education and more credentials. Additionally, 52% of employers believe that in the future most advanced degrees will be completed online.

Even more promising, online credentials are now recognised as mainstream qualifications. 61% of HR leaders believing that credentials earned online are of generally equal quality to those completed in-person, up from lower percentages in years past.

Skills-based or competency-based hiring appears to be gaining significant interest and momentum, with most HR leaders reporting either having a formal effort to reduce an emphasis on traditional degrees and prioritise skills.

The findings in this report serve as a wake-up call for professionals, it is reported that close to 50% of employers report that they have increased the level of education preferred or required for the same job roles over the last five years. This change can be attributed to increased skills demands, due to changing industry landscapes.

Professionals need to take note of the types of microcredentials that are highly regarded by employees. The report suggests that work-integrated learning and curriculum that is industry-aligned and employer-validated are highly prioritised by employers as indicators of credential quality

The report also suggests that microcredentials a strongly poised to change the status quo in the coming years, challenging the emphasis on college degrees in hiring.

The increase in enrolment for microcredentials is focused on a few key topic areas and fields. Business, computer science, data analysis, and information technology have the highest number of enrolments according to this study.

It is predicted that the demand for microcredentials that develop higher cognitive skills like creativity, critical thinking, complex information processing is set to increase while technical, quantitative, and other hard skills are predicted to experience a drop in demand.


Stacking up microcredentials for, or with an MBA 

MBAs are general qualifications that are valuable in a professional upskilling journey. There are many ways to use microcredentials to steer your direction that will add value to the MBA programme that you plan to pursue, are currently pursuing or already have under your belt.

Businesses leaders can chart their own pathways by accumulating skills in specific areas while pursuing their MBAs as often, universities and MOOCs offer microcredentials to serve this need. By completing microcredentials in Global Strategy, Managing Complex Organisations, and Value-Based Marketing courses, an MBA holder can develop the skills needed to upskill themselves to become business strategists for organisations.

Similarly, professionals who complete microcredentials equivalent to Accounting for Managers, Managerial Finance, and Management of Operations can develop the right skills that will allow them to assume roles that assess and forecast operational performance and create lean supply chain systems in organisations.