A new study focusing on employers’ perspectives on micro-credentials shows that while a large majority of employers believe it adds value to a potential hire, not enough colleges and universities are capitalizing on it.
More than 70% of respondents agreed that the number of applicants without a college degree or alternative qualifications has increased over the past two years and that these hirings have helped their company to close an existing skills gap (74%) and the quality of their workforce improve (73%). It’s no wonder, then, that 71% confirmed their organization is accepting more non-degree or alternative degrees in place of the traditional four-year degree.
A CV with micro-credentials is becoming more and more advantageous. A whopping 95% of employers said that a resume that lists micro-credentials benefits the candidate because it demonstrates a willingness to develop skills (76%), and most employers were not concerned about the negative impact of non-degree credentials could have on the workforce.
With alternative and non-academic qualifications becoming more attractive to employers, colleges and universities are in the perfect position to break into the market. However, schools could botch this opportunity. Less than half of employers have been encouraged by schools to build micro-credential programs.
“Micro credentials can play a critical role in the new economy. However, similar to how online degrees were perceived two decades ago, some are critical of the quality of non-degree programs despite a lack of evidence of a systematic problem,” said Jim Fong, chief research officer at UPCEA.
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How schools can benefit from a collaboratively developed micro-credential curriculum
Sixty-eight percent of employers would like to be approached by a college or university to develop micro-credentials, and there are several reasons why this would be mutually beneficial.
As students struggle to attend class and feel disconnected from the real world, most employers agree that the biggest benefit of micro-credentials is that they give people hands-on real-world experience. Schools can motivate a determined student base by providing them with opportunities created with direct input from the industries they wish to join upon graduation.
Most organizations partner with four-year colleges or universities (49%) and community colleges (45%) to provide training or learning opportunities for their employees, so while micro-credential collaboration may be new territory, the connection is well established .
Executives, supervisors and HR staff still value a traditional degree more than a degree without a degree. They are more of a supplement than a replacement.
The University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) and edtech company Collegis partnered for this study, which reflects the opinions of 514 employers from different organizations. All interviewees oversee or work directly in people development and hiring, work at a company with more than 100 employees, are above an entry-level position, and are considered qualified to speak about their organization’s training and professional development needs . The majority worked in finance (14%), followed by healthcare (13%) and manufacturing (12%).