The project will provide a better understanding of the role played by microcredentials in supporting labour-market-related and employment-relevant education, training and learning. The project findings will offer new knowledge on the characteristics of microcredentials, their added value to individual learners and employees, as well as their impact on existing qualifications and recognition systems.

Why a focus on microcredentials?

While qualifications and degrees from initial education and training play a key role in Europe, alternative credentials (including digital badges, microcredentials, nano-credentials, minor awards, etc.), are increasingly seen as a way to add to, and/or reform, existing qualifications systems.

 Microcredentials are frequently portrayed and promoted as a new way for individuals to build their own skills-profile (portfolio) by collecting and ‘stacking’ learning in a flexible way, at their own pace and according to their own priorities.

Microcredentials and the political context

The increasing attention given to microcredentials is demonstrated in the 2020 EU skills agenda, which sees developments in this area as directly supporting adult upskilling and reskilling policies.

While the role of microcredentials in higher, academic education has received much attention and the link to the proliferation of relatively low-cost and short-duration Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) seems to be clear, the influence of microcredentials on further and continuing training in the labour market is less understood. Looking at the certification and qualification landscape in general, task- and competence-oriented certificates – often linked to shorter learning experiences – already play an important role in many parts of the labour market (for example offered by sectors, private companies, international organisations and public bodies). However, it is not always clear whether microcredentials represent something genuinely new and innovative. 

To understand the microcredential phenomena fully, we need to examine how microcredentials interact with existing qualification and certification systems – already serving enterprises, sectors and technology areas.

Aim of the project

To address the limited evidence that exists on the general labour market value attached to microcredentials, Cedefop has launched a new study on the role of microcredentials in facilitating learning for employment, as part of its future of VET agenda. The new study will attempt to offer new and valuable knowledge on the characteristics of microcredentials, their added value to individual learners, employees and employers, as well as their impact on existing qualifications and recognition systems.

The project work is divided into three separate but interlinked themes:

1. Mapping microcredentials in EU labour-market-related education and training

Theme 1

2. Microcredentials and evolving qualifications systems

Theme 2

3. Microcredentials and the added value for end-users

Theme 3

Events promoting microcredentials in facilitating learning for employment

Over 200 participants from 40 counties in Europe and beyond joined a lively discussion in Cedefop’s virtual conference on microcredentials, on 25 and 26 November, demonstrating that the topic is of global appeal.

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