Colleges realize that the looming enrollment cliff will result in declining tuition dollars to pay the bills. Microcredentialing programs can help close the budget gap.
Microcredentialing is a growing trend in the field of education and professional development. It refers to the process of earning a small, focused, and often industry-specific certification that demonstrates proficiency in a specific skill or knowledge area. These credentials are becoming increasingly popular as a way to showcase specific skills to employers and as a way to enhance one's professional development.
Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of microcredentials. According to a 2018 report by the Lumina Foundation, 95% of employers surveyed said they would be willing to consider a candidate who has earned a microcredential, and 80% said they would be more likely to promote an employee who has earned one. This is because microcredentials demonstrate a candidate's dedication to ongoing learning and their ability to acquire specific, job-related skills.
Examples of microcredential programs:
Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ): This microcredential is designed for professionals who want to demonstrate their proficiency in using Google Analytics to track website traffic and user behavior. The credential is earned by passing an online exam and is recognized by employers as a valuable skill for marketing and analytics roles.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): This microcredential is designed for professionals in the field of cybersecurity. It is earned by passing an exam that covers topics such as security and risk management, asset security, and communication and network security. The credential is widely recognized as a standard for cybersecurity professionals.
Salesforce Certified Administrator: This microcredential is designed for professionals who work with Salesforce, a popular customer relationship management (CRM) software. The credential is earned by passing an exam that covers topics such as managing users, data, and security. The credential is recognized by employers as a valuable skill for sales and marketing professionals.
IBM Blockchain Essentials: This microcredential is designed for professionals who want to learn about blockchain technology and its applications in business. The credential is earned by completing an online course that covers topics such as blockchain architecture, smart contracts, and use cases. The credential is recognized by employers as a valuable skill for professionals in industries such as finance and supply chain management.
HarvardX Data Science MicroMasters: This microcredential is designed for professionals who want to gain advanced skills in data analysis and machine learning. The credential is earned by completing a series of online courses and projects that cover topics such as probability and statistics, data analysis, and machine learning. The credential is recognized by employers as a valuable skill for data analysts, scientists, and engineers.
Microsoft Business Application Developer Certificate
In collaboration with Microsoft and W5 LIFE, Lasell University has launched a Microsoft Business Application Developer Certificate program. The program is designed to prepare participants to become Microsoft Certified and to jump-start a career path as a business application developer.
There are many different organizations offering microcredentials, including universities, professional associations, and online learning platforms. These organizations typically offer a range of courses and programs, each focused on a specific skill or knowledge area. Students can earn a microcredential by completing a course or series of courses, passing an exam or other assessment, or completing a project or portfolio of work that demonstrates their mastery of the skill or knowledge area.
Partnerships between colleges and private companies to develop and deliver microcredentialing programs have already started to grow. However, given the increasing need to close the skills gap and the constraints on available talent, there is plenty of opportunity for higher education in this space. The low financial barrier of entry to start a program and declining enrollments should be reasons enough for colleges to make a big play for microcredentialing.
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