Education is one of the most lucrative industries in any developed economy's labour market:
So, for a thriving society, and for a robust education and training industry, engaging with credentialed learning is really important. That is, even though we can learn informally through work and life experience and curiosity (and we are so lucky to have so many great learning resources online), a credential usually means that our learning has been assessed and certified. Employment practices use credentials as signals of fit and capability, especially in one's earlier career stages.
Learners are likely to re-engage and influence others to engage in credentialed learning if they see value in the time, money and opportunity costs of acquiring a credential - this could be a formal qualification or a micro-credential.
What makes learners perceive a qualification or micro-credential as "valuable" - before they enrol, while they are completing it, and then beyond completion? Does this perception of value change over time, and does it depend partly on life stage?
Are the factors affecting our value judgements about micro-credentials similar to those that shape our judgements about the value of formal qualifications?
I don't have any clear answers to these questions yet, but I am on a path to discover them. I would be delighted to hear from colleagues who have already done some research in this area, or who have thoughts and ideas about what this research might uncover.
World Economic Forum (2018). The future of jobs report 2018, World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland.
Reading between the lines in the key findings (excerpts below), there is a hint for education providers. Is it time to shift the focus from B2C recruitment of individuals to courses, to more emphasis on B2B (that is, approaching companies to help them devise and sustain their "in-company lifelong learning systems" - aka micro-credentials. #learning-integrated-work
Excerpts from the key findings:
"To prevent an undesirable lose-lose scenario— technological change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality—it is critical that
"Crafting a sound in-company lifelong learning system, investing in human capital and collaborating with other stakeholders on workforce strategy should thus be key business imperatives, critical to companies’ medium to long-term growth, as well as an important contribution to society and social stability. A mindset of agile learning will also be needed on the part of workers as they shift from the routines and limits of today’s jobs to new, previously unimagined futures. Finally, policy-makers, regulators and educators will need to play a fundamental role in helping those who are displaced repurpose their skills or retrain to acquire new skills and to invest heavily in the development of new agile learners in future workforces by tackling improvements to education and training systems, as well as updating labour policy to match the realities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution."
Short and to the point, this analysis by Reich and Ruipérez-Valiente report on the 'blue ocean strategy' of early MOOC platforms. Key statements include:
Reich, J., & Ruipérez-Valiente, J. A. (2019). The MOOC pivot: What happened to disruptive transformation of education? Science, 363(6423), 130-131. doi:10.1126/science.aav7958
This is a "must read" for anyone with even a passing interest in MOOC micro-credentials - the number on offer, from which country and in which languages - and relations to online degrees. Highly recommended. Report is available here.
A compelling big picture read: jointly published by Cedefop, European Training Foundation, UNESCO, and the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, this publication includes chapters on topics such as
A timely report calling for a national AI strategy. Key findings (summarised) include:
A fabulous government publication to clarify the labour market, and which industries are predicted to grow in the near future. It is true that education is about so much more than jobs, but it's also true that robust employment is underpinned a strong integrated education system.