February 23, 2022

A small package with a big impact

Thinking about going back to school? You’re not alone. New data from StatsCan looking at educational choices for displaced workers shows that 10% of post-secondary educated Canadians faced with job loss went back to school within three years of losing their job. And, of that 10%, more than 40% of women and more than half of men chose a college or institute to upgrade their skills. For many of you this isn’t surprising.  

Colleges and institutes are highly accessible, and their programs are rooted in employer needs. Short, flexible, and experience-based learning helps people build the employment-focused skills they need to thrive immediately in the workforce. The new secret: microcredentials. For example:

At Saskatchewan PolytechnicSurge Micro-credentials are short, focused learning opportunities that help students accelerate their skills in specific areas (like digital communications, Indigenous leadership, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and small business finance)!

Similarly, at Conestoga College, the Continuing Education department offers 60 microcredentials that are short, flexible, innovative, timely, and based on industry needs (in areas like basic web design, business-to-business sales skills, Indigenous values and identity, conflict management, and inclusive teaching practices).

At Medicine Hat College, microcredentials have been developed with industry partners in areas like hospitality and tourism, technology, and agriculture.

At Olds College, the Environmental Management of Cannabis Production badge gives student insight into sustainability in the emerging cannabis industry (like reducing the environmental impacts of production and processing, and effectively and efficiently disposing of waste byproducts).

At Cégep André-LaurendeauPerfectionnement en comptabilité pour travailleurs autonomes et petites entreprises is a micro-upskilling program that teaches the basics of accounting and finance software for freelancers, self-employed individuals, and small-business owners.

At Manitoba Institute of Trades and TechnologyCyberWave is a centre of excellence that address labour shortages in cybersecurity with specialized training options, work-integrated learning opportunities and applied research. Students can select career-oriented tracks (like vulnerability assessment and penetration testing, network defense and operations, and cyber forenics) or take individual microcredentials to fill more specific skill gaps.

At Cégep de Sept-ÎlesCybersécurité dans l’industrie minière et l’industrie connectée looks at cybersecurity risk and management in the mining industry with six modules totalling 66 hours of study.

  • This program was developed in collaboration with Cégep de la PocatièreCégep de Thetford, and the Institut national des mines du Québec (Quebec’s national mining institute)!

At Red River College Polytechnic, the COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal Sample Collection microcredential trains specific groups of health-care students and health-care professionals in safe COVID-19 sample collection. (Within months of the pandemic, this course helped dramatically increase the COVID-19 sample collecting capacity for Manitoba Public Health)!

At Camosun College, Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings microcredentials give students the skills to create net-zero energy buildings that are efficient, healthy, long-lasting, and climate-friendly.

At Holland College, the New Manager Training microcredential focuses on specific workplace skills for new leaders (like communications, performance management, team building, and organizational behaviour).

  • Students can choose to earn a digital badge when they complete each module, or a milestone microcredential if they complete all modules in the series!

So, what is a microcredential anyway?

Last year, we consulted members, employers and stakeholders, and put together a national framework to offer a standard definition and guiding principles:

Education has changed, and learners expect to be future-proofed. With microcredentials, our members work with industry partners to anticipate the needs of our economy, then train, upskill and reskill thinkers and doers.