Micro-credentials: “Just-in-time” training and skills development to meet emerging workforce needs

Published in Momentum Fall 2021

“When employers identify their training needs and Mohawk College is able to quickly fashion micro-credential programs to precisely meet them, that is demand-led learning at its best,” says Jim Vanderveken, Dean of the Centre for Community Partnerships and Experiential Learning.

Micro-credentials provide rapid and accelerated learning cycles in which learners can build concrete competencies and skills in days or weeks.  

“Micro-credentials are a key emerging tool in the educational ecosystem and are complementary, not competing, to other formal credentials like college certificates, diplomas and degrees,” says Janet Shuh, Dean of Continuing Education and Academic Development. 

A key advantage of micro-credentials over traditional college programs is the speed with which they can be developed and the ability to co-create them with partners. Mohawk College subject matter experts work with employers to co-define, co-design and sometimes co-deliver the curriculum that supports acquisition of skills. 

“Another unique aspect is that micro-credentials are outcome driven and about meeting defined competencies, rather than time spent learning. They are much more flexible for the learner,” said Shuh. 

They can be standalone or stackable and many come with a digital badge that can be displayed on resumes and professional social media. 

“Each micro-credential at Mohawk has the same quality assurances as all of our programs,” says Alison Horton, Vice-President, Academic.  

“We expect the number of micro-credentials we offer to grow significantly as they will be an important differentiator in the job market.”  

They are relevant in many sectors in our economy including business, technology, trades and health fields and run the gamut from highly technical skills to new regulatory areas to the soft skills needed for success in the workforce, including problem-solving, teamwork, communication and creativity. 

A recent tally came up with about 60 micro-credentials offered now and more are in development, says Vanderveken.