Microcredentials and Nanocredentials: The not-so-secret way to upskill your workforce!


February 7, 2023

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Written By: Michelle Mouton

I thoroughly enjoyed my 4 year undergrad where I completed a concurrent Education degree. I naively trusted that it would prepare me for a successful career as a high school teacher. However, during my first placement at a school I realized I had lots of theoretical knowledge, but no skills to help me be successful. My classroom management skills were based on survival instinct, and the teenagers could smell my fear!

Fast forward 10 years (during which I did NOT go into high school teaching), and I made a second attempt to get into education. But this time I registered into a fairly inexpensive 5-course certificate at a local college in Adult Education which took just over 200 hours to complete. There was still a fair amount of theory and an institutional design, but for the first time I was introduced to practical assignments that focused on the things I needed to know. Now I was getting somewhere! However, despite an undergrad degree and college certificate, there were still many significant gaps in my skills, and I had no other option but to learn them on the job at the expense of myself, my students, and my employer.

My story is not a new one. I regularly meet people who wish their post-secondary experience had been more meaningful and focused on the real world application of skills. Combine these educational gaps with the fact that work is now constantly evolving, and it becomes clear that a solution is needed to support skills gaps in the rapidly changing job market.

On cue, in step innovative and flexible options aimed at precisely this challenge. Microcredentials are small, specialized learning events that focus on specific skills (competencies) and can be earned quickly, often in just a few weeks with no more than 20 hours of work. Nanocredentials are even more focused and typically take only a few hours to complete. Nanocredentials can be stacked into a microcredential, and microcredentials can be combined to create a comprehensive stacked microcredential. In instances where a post-secondary institution has pre-approved the curriculum of stacked microcredentials, they can be applied towards post-secondary course credits. Unlike typical courses, however, these credentials are all designed around a competency (which can be foundational, intermediate, or advanced) whereby the learner must demonstrate proficiency in a specific task or skill rather than simply a demonstration of knowledge. This means that rote learning is out, and effective performance is in!

At TALENT, we design microcredentials and nanocredentials with the competency as our starting point. Learners can practice with the learning materials as much or as little as they need to the point when they feel confident that they can complete the skills verification activity. On successful completion, learners receive a digital badge with metadata that outlines the skills they have demonstrated and allows them to share their skills on digital platforms as well as with their employer.

Both microcredentials and nanocredentials are becoming increasingly popular with employers in response to the growing skills gap in the job market. This innovative learning offers a flexible, accessible, and cost-effective way to upskill and reskill employees and support retention. At this point it is not a matter of why, but rather when and how businesses will strategically plan the upskilling of their staff with microcredentials and nanocredentials. Let TALENT partner with you to make this a reality.

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