Micro-credentials are the New Buzzword for Economic Recovery

Digital Bootcamp from Alacrity Canada is one example of an agile response to a changing labour market.

Photo by Elio Santos, courtesy of Unsplash

A 2020 McKinsey Global Survey on future workforce needs found nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organizations were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. That gap has widened as the country grapples with the unexpected turbulence of a pandemic and a rapidly changing economy.

One way to help people and businesses scale and embrace new opportunities is the rise of micro-credentials.

Micro-credential courses are highly targeted programs that help students master specific skills as they need it. They allow people to upskill in areas they identify as important to their professional development.

One example of this is the new Summer Digital Bootcamp being offered by Alacrity Canada. The South Island Prosperity Partnership has announced they are an Island community partner for this program, which is also funded by the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness.

“Upskilling people through micro-credential programs is an agile response to labour market needs,” says SIPP CEO Emilie de Rosenroll, “particularly as some of our sectors, such as services and tourism, experience massive disruptions and major displacement of the workforce as a result of the pandemic.”

Micro-credentialing has already emerged as a key theme from SIPP’s Rising Economy Taskforce, says de Rosenroll. The Rising Economy Taskforce and its committees — a multi-stakeholder group of 120-plus South Island sector leaders — was convened by SIPP in April to coordinate a strong response to the urgent economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SIPP is one of three B.C. agencies supporting the Digital Bootcamp, which provides online upskilling for up to 250 participants from B.C.-based small- and mid-sized businesses, along with unemployed or underemployed British Columbians.

The online course is based on a pilot delivered by Alacrity Canada in late 2019 and early 2020. Almost 45 people participated in the pilot, with a job placement rate of 85 per cent. The Bootcamp provides a foundation in digital marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO), analytics, and content, readying participants to work in a range of digital marketing positions. These skills also benefit small and medium-sized businesses that are expanding their sales strategies to include a larger online presence.

The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness is contributing $250,000 to cover the tuition costs for up to 250 participants from registered B.C.-based small- and medium-sized businesses, with a limit of one participant per business. The Digital Marketing Bootcamp has an educational value of $6,000. The course cost has been reduced to approximately $1,200, which may be further reduced as more participants register.

Increasingly, colleges and universities are experimenting with micro-credentials or “badges” to recognize skills that don’t appear on a transcript to give a more complete picture of a student’s educational experience.

“Micro-credentials enable post-secondary institutions to be nimble through programming that can equip learners with the specific competencies required to meet the needs of the continuously evolving workplace,” says Jennifer Vornbrock, UVic’s Executive Director, Community and Government Relations, and Co-Chair of the Education & Skills Development Committee on the SIPP Rising Economy Taskforce. “UVic is excited about the potential of micro-credentialing to better support industry partners and learners.”

The B.C. Ministry of Education and Skills Development Committee is also currently developing a joint proposal to collaborate on a flexible, menu-based micro-credential program, drawing on the strengths of participating post-secondary institutions and private partners.

Registration for the Digital Marketing Bootcamp is open until July 31; the course begins on August 4 and runs for six weeks. To register, visit www.alacritycanada.com/learn.

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