The rise of the Skills Economy - and how you can rise to meet it

For most of the modern history of education, institutions of higher learning would decide which fields of study, which courses and what course content was offered to students. Education was inexpensive, in some instances free, and there were plenty of well paid jobs around for after graduation. Post-secondary education was straight after high school and was typically the only time one studied. And this remained the status quo, well, for a time anyway...

Even pre-pandemic, the advent of the skills economy was already well underway. Offshoring, automation, technology and rising job scarcity have driven an increased focus on employment outcomes, which was kicked into hyperdrive when COVID-19 changed forever the world of education and work.

According to our 2021 Employability Outcomes Survey, short-form learning (such as micro-credentials), aligned directly, and often in collaboration with, a broad swath of industries, is now the preferred option for over 68% of learners. Many of the largest companies have developed their own education offerings, tied to job guarantees post-graduation. As traditional industries collapse and new ones emerge, workers need upskilling or reskilling and job mobility is higher than ever. Lifelong learning is the new imperative.

For educators to remain competitive in diverse marketplaces - ones increasingly crowded with smaller, more agile competitors - micro-credentials and digital badges have found themselves at the forefront of the new skills economy.

This requires a shift in how traditional institutions approach which fields of study, courses and course content to offer. Educational offerings today need to be developed with backwards-design thinking. Start with the skills and competencies employers want, align them to micro-credentials that teach them, then provide credible evidence of learning that can be quickly verified.

More and more, learners want the flexibility and portability of digital badges to share evidence of their achievements. They seek ways to integrate their non-formal and formal education, and need centralised storage and aggregation of their credentials to differentiate themselves now, and throughout their lives.

With Edalex's Micro-credential Maturity Model, you can discover where you are now in your micro-credential journey - and help you plan for the future

The Micro-credential Maturity Model is a tool to assess current organisational offerings and explore organisational aspirations relating to micro-credentials, and potential steps along the way. It is intended as a tool that should be referred back to periodically to review progress and re-assess goals. Organisations may look to make incremental changes to an existing micro-credential program, or be in the midst of a strategic re-examination of their micro-credential model and offerings. The two axes of the model are Stages and Facets.

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Micro-credential Maturity Model Format

Stages

The Micro-credential Maturity Model segments micro-credential deployments into 5 phases, ranging from initial exploratory experiments through to an immersive, integrated experience. 

  1. Exploratory - Small, manual pilot/s
  2. Focused Launch - More robust & targeted
  3. Expansion - Expanded cohort, increasing evidence
  4. Enterprise - Integrated solution across multiple sub-organisations
  5. Immersive - Evidence-rich, seamless pathways, supporting entire organisation

Facets

Along the vertical axis of the Micro-credential Maturity Model, important factors are segmented into 7 facets:

  1. Purpose - Reflects the organisational business drivers for the micro credential program
  2. Scope - Explores the recognition the micro-credentials are intended to provide, as well as the target audience
  3. Delivery - Explores the delivery mode and level of instructor engagement in the delivery
  4. Systems & Analytics - Based on all the facets, explores the impact on systems integration to deliver the experience and analytics to surface additional insights into learner performance
  5. Curriculum - Considerations include the selection/approval process for microcredentials to be taught, source of instructional materials, and the stackability of the micro-credentials
  6. Assessment - Reflects how learners in micro-credentials are assessed: from not at all, up through authentic assessment
  7. Learner Lifecycle - Explores the learners’ entire experience with the microcredential, from their initial discovery