What could be truer in today’s society? Adaptability, flexibility, value; it’s what all learners are asking for. This is backed up by the Pearson 2020 Global Learner Survey, in which 73% of participants globally agree that the notion of working for one employer for your entire career is old fashioned.
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
- Charles Darwin
Universities UK reported on a poll, conducted by Savanta ComRes, that highlights some interesting insights, for example: “13% of those who are interested in university education say they are not likely to study part time but are interested in modular study.” Furthermore, learners place value on being able to build up to a full qualification. This is referring to the notion of skills-stacking, but how does this work in reality?
Skills and microcredentials
The concept of stackable skills is where individuals build their skills and knowledge through a variety of forms throughout their lifetime. This can include qualifications, badging, degrees, certifications, apprenticeships, online testing etc., otherwise known as microcredentials.
The concept of stackable skills speaks to a new target audience, one that needs learning to be flexible. It has a real ability to change the face of higher education, and it certainly relates to the Pearson mission of lifelong learning. Indeed, according to an article featured in Inside Higher Ed: “Credential innovation is a hot topic in higher education”.
Stackable skills can be talked about alongside the notion of T-shaped skills, wherein the vertical bar represents the skills that an individual has acquired, and the horizontal bar represents the ‘softer’ skills. Individuals who fit this T-shape mould are more employable, as their horizontal skills are considered more transferable.
What are the benefits?
- Microcredentials allow students to complete shorter periods of learning, providing more achievable goals. This could positively affect institution drop-out rates.
- They allow employers to support their staff. Where job roles change, or are no longer required, employees can be reskilled, rather than being made redundant.
- This type of learning is more appealing to students who want to work and study at the same time
In the words of an article published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), “It’s time for a reskilling revolution”. Back in January 2020, they reported that “by 2022 – 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change.” This was even before Covid was declared a pandemic.
Covid-19 has accelerated change across so many sectors, and education is no different. The pandemic has impacted employment worldwide, causing populations to rethink their futures with an increased need for employees to reskill.
Coupled with rapid technological change and industry 4.0, the term ‘microcredentials’ is becoming widely recognised. Having the ability to adapt and change to what is happening in the market and new skills that are required is vital.