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Survey Reveals Employers' Views on Microcredential Benefits, Concerns

These days, the majority of employers are aware of microcredentials and other non-degree credentials, according to a new study from Collegis Education and UPCEA, the association for higher education professionals in online and continuing education. Out of 510 organizational leaders surveyed, 95% reported being at least somewhat familiar with microcredentials, and more than two-thirds (69%) said they were extremely or very familiar with alternative credentials or training.

Most survey respondents associated a number of benefits with the inclusion of microcredentials on a prospective employee's résumé. Those included: showing an employee's willingness to develop their skills (cited by 76% of respondents); demonstrating initiative (63%); easily communicating employee competencies and skills (60%); and showing that the employee stays up to date with particular subject areas (56%). In addition, 80% of respondents said that stackable credentials — those that could build toward a full degree — increased the appeal of microcredentials in general.

Concerns about microcredentials were varied. When asked about adverse effects that microcredentials could have on the workforce, 17% of respondents cited wrong or irrelevant credentials and a lack of critical skills or training as a top concern. Other concerns included quality of education/validating credentials (cited by 12% of respondents); lack of educational/professional experience (11%); work quality/performance (9%); and unqualified candidates for role (8%). Still, one in five respondents said they had little to no concerns about microcredentials' impact.

"UPCEA's mission is to support colleges and universities as they evolve their programs to meet the changing needs of employers and adult students," commented Jim Fong, chief research officer at UPCEA, in a statement. "Microcredentials can play a critical role in the new economy. However, similar to how online degrees were perceived two decades ago, some are critical about the quality of non-degree programs, despite a lack of evidence to support a systematic problem. The findings from the Collegis/UPCEA research show that organizational leaders value microcredentials and non-degree programming but are often unaware of them. Those that are aware agree that quality can be addressed with greater collaboration between employers and higher education."

The full report, "The Effect of Employer Understanding and Engagement on Non-Degree Credentials," is available for download on the Collegis Education site (registration required).

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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