Returning to school to complete a masters degree is becoming less and less popular. Your employees don’t have the time, energy, funding, or interest in doing so.
But at the same time, their skill sets are growing outdated faster than ever before (after all, toddlers are being taught to use iPads and kindergarteners are learning to code). Ongoing education is necessary to stay relevant and effective in any modern workplace.
You’re familiar with using corporate training events to bring employees up to speed on the latest developments in your industry and company. However, it’s time to consider incorporating micro-credentials—a type of skills-based, asynchronous training that is the ideal complement to in-person and hybrid event landscapes—into that training strategy.
Micro-credentials build on the rising instructional design trend of quick, accessible learning experiences. These credentials have benefits for learners and your corporation alike. We’ll cover the ins and outs of incorporating micro-credentials into your corporate training events through the following points:
- Why incorporate micro-credentials into your corporate training efforts?
- How can you use micro-credentials in training events?
- How can you create micro-credentials for your corporation?
Before we discuss how to develop micro-credentials for your training events, let’s make sure doing so would be a valuable strategy for your company to begin with.
Why incorporate micro-credentials into your corporate training efforts?
Skyepack’s comprehensive guide to micro-credentials defines them as “short, stackable courses that learners—whether students, employees, or organisation members—take to develop specific skills in their field.”
These courses tend to focus on in-demand skills, such as project management, cybersecurity, UX design, SEO best practices, and IT support. They generally include a set of lectures, seminars, and online learning materials that learners review before completing an assessment to demonstrate the knowledge they’ve gained. Once the assessment is completed, the learner has either earned the credential or fulfilled one requirement toward doing so.
These credentials are most commonly asynchronous, meaning that learners complete them on their own schedule rather than in unison while in a classroom environment. However, they can also be hybrid and include an in-person component.
Incorporating micro-credentials into your training strategy is an easy sell when you consider the following statistics, pulled from the micro-credential article linked above:
- At least 1/3 of individuals who lost their jobs during COVID-19 reported needing additional education to secure their next jobs. This means that those individuals’ skills became outdated in the two-year period since the beginning of the pandemic. Only two years!
- Less than 50% of students reported feeling prepared for their first job post-graduation, and less than 15% of business leaders agree that graduates have all of the needed skills for their roles. This means that it’s likely that you (and your employees) agree that additional training is needed to be effective at your company.
- More than 1/4 of students in four-year college programs quit after one year. This means that many individuals don’t have the patience to complete a long credentialing program, regardless of how beneficial it may be. Employees want tangible results in a short time period.
The need for quick ongoing training speaks for itself. But you shouldn’t choose to incorporate micro-credentials into your strategy out of a crisis mentality alone. There are numerous benefits for your company and employees, including:
- Increased employee satisfaction. According to Astron Solutions, organisations that “require employees to develop their skills to perfection and ask their employees to learn something new every day” will likely see higher employee satisfaction and retention. You may even be able to offer college coursework to employees by partnering with a college to provide micro-credentials. This is also a great way to support lateral moves.
- Additional revenue. You might offer the credentials to employees at no cost. But what about additional, optional credentials that they complete for their own personal gain? Those, you can sell to your employees and raise additional revenue.
- Improved outcomes. Better trained employees mean improved outcomes, regardless of if they’re in sales, human resources, marketing, or another role. It’s as simple as that.
Even if you believe that micro-credentials will be a valuable supplement to your company’s training efforts, how do quick, stackable credentials fit into corporate training events?
How can you use micro-credentials in training events?
We mentioned that, most often, micro-credentials are asynchronous—meaning a learner completes them independently and on their own schedule. On the other hand, corporate training events are, by definition, synchronous. Even if you’re hosting a multi-track event with a variety of sessions, attendees go through the experiences as a group.
That said, there are a couple of ways that you can incorporate micro-credentials into your next corporate training event:
- Build the entire conference around earning a credential.
A two to three-day event could focus on helping attendees earn a specific credential. You’d offer a number of training sessions and independent study time for learners to explore accompanying digital course materials. Then, you’d test learners at the end of the event and award the credential accordingly.
- Make the event one step in the journey to earning a micro-credential.
For example, you could use the event to “kick-off” the micro-credential, with all attendees joining an in-person session and completing the course on their own time. Or, you could use the event as a “conclusion” and assess learners who have been working toward a micro-credential during the event, awarding those who “pass” with a certificate at the end of the event.
You could also use the event as a checkpoint in the middle of a micro-credential. All learners who are working toward a specific credential could come together for an in-person lecture or even a gamified social learning experience that would be more challenging to simulate in a fully asynchronous environment.
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How can you create micro-credentials for your corporation?
The first step to incorporating micro-credentials into your corporation’s training events is developing your internal course-creating capacity. You already have experts—they’re the ones leading your training efforts now. But, they probably don’t know how to create skill-based micro-credentials (or the digital assets and infrastructure that accompanies them).
Begin by seeking top performers in specific areas of your company and training them to create micro-credentials. You may want to work with an instructional design partner that specialises in micro-credentials to conduct this training.
The next step is authoring the micro-credentials. This includes writing, recording, and illustrating the information to be included in the credential and building the digital course materials themselves. This can be a time-intensive process, especially if your team isn’t familiar with course authoring tools.
You may choose to work with the instructional design partner from step one to bring your credentials to live digitally—especially if they use Agile Instructional Design processes, which combine the speed of Agile development with instructional design best practices.
The final step is building the distribution capacity to share the courses with corporate learners. You’ll need a learning platform for distribution that can facilitate course delivery, eCommerce, quiz and test administration and grading, and badge and certificate awarding
There are a number of partners on the market—such as Coursera and Skillshare—that allow you to deliver courses to learners, but they’re unbranded.
Ideally, you’ll want to work with a learning platform that’s fully customised to your organisation to maintain continuity for learners. The platform can be fully integrated with your internal ecosystem and give you full control and ownership of the relationship with the learner.
To wrap up, micro-credentials have clear benefits for both learners and your corporation alike. While traditionally asynchronous, there are a number of ways to incorporate micro-credentials into training events successfully.
To get started, consider partnering with an instructional designer with experience in developing micro-credentials. Just as you would work with an event planner to avoid common challenges to your corporate event, an instructional design partner can ensure your micro-credentials are developed effectively. Good luck!