Could micro-credentials be the answer to growing workforce shortages in NSW?
Micro-credentials – certification-style qualifications that individuals choose to study to improve a skill found in a particular sector or industry area – are being quickly rolled out to respond to the skill needs of industry, and will form a major part of a NSW review into vocational education and training, including greater partnerships between the VET sector and universities.
The short, low-cost online courses provide learners with a digital certification or a ‘digital badge’ when complete, and are a nod to recent comments made by NSW Skills Minister Dr Geoff Lee, who said vocational education and training “needed to be more responsive to industry demand”.
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) was spoken about in the review, the Terms of Reference of which identified that NSW has a higher overall skills shortage compared to Victoria and Queensland, with the biggest shortage including ECEC educators, along with electricians, plumbers, brick layers, carpenters, and mechanics.
While micro-credentials are unlikely to replace full qualifications, they are designed to sit alongside those qualifications, and upskill workers in specialised areas, at the “leading edge” of sector and industry demand.
Speaking with The Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Lee said there was “scope for the development of partnerships between the VET sector and universities” and that this partnership model may include incorporating some of the more practical elements of TAFE courses into university qualifications.