Right after hearing “Pomp and Circumstances” and snapping a cap and gown photo, updating the education section of LinkedIn is a must for recent grads on the job search. But learning doesn’t end after walking across the graduation stage. So how are universities keeping up with new, in-demand skills?
Micro-credentialing has become a key part of the continuing education space. Young professionals, career transition candidates, and those scouring job boards for new positions have used the smaller courses to level up a specific skill.
Unlike a full degree track, micro-credentials are short-form, competency-based badges designed to showcase someone’s mastery in a hyper-specific subject.
Georgia’s own Kennesaw State University is leading the charge to make it easier for students and professionals to market their skills through such credentials. Those in the KSU network can use credentials to verify new skills on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles.
KSU recently earned national recognition by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association for its work in the alternative credentialing space.
“In some ways, I believe KSU is mirroring the national rise in micro-credentials. Micro-credentials have gotten more popular over the last three years, as employers are focusing more closely on job skills and competencies,” Brendan Callahan, KSU’s interim executive director of general education, told Hypepotamus.
The school currently offers badges to students looking to learn on a more “flexible and responsive” track, said Callahan. He added that a key aspect of the program’s success so far is its focus on “inclusive taxonomy, our systematic review process, and a visual identity that clearly defines a KSU micro-credential.”
Over the last 12 months, KSU has awarded hundreds of credentials to students and faculty. Some, like ‘Digital Storytelling with Adobe Premier Rush’ and ‘Creating Accessible PDFs,’ are about helping students and faculty get up-to-speed with specific software programs. Others around curriculum mapping and giving constructive feedback online are geared towards the softer skills needed in academia and in the workplace today.
There are currently 57 badges designed by 15 different issuers across the university. One such issuer, Digital Learning Innovations, has awarded 616 credentials to students, faculty, and staff members so far.
The Rise of Micro-Credentials
The university launched its micro-credential initiative in 2020. Since then, workforce realities have changed drastically due to COVID, the Great Resignation, and a tightening labor market.
Estimates put the alternatives and micro-credentialing market size at over $10 billion. The continuing education landscape has been moving to embrace micro-credentialing as a way to bring relevant content more quickly to their alumni base, student population, and the wider community.
“I think we’ve seen a rise in micro-credentials as the labor market has changed significantly,” added Krysta Fry, KSU professor and director of Career Advising and Planning. “Due to COVID, many have decided to pivot career paths and re-tool to be more marketable in their new paths.”
Those who want to explore all of KSU micro-credentialing offerings can find them here.