You can study a microcredential in just about any industry, from healthcare and education to business and marketing. Here’s why these skills-based short courses are worth your time.
Microcredentials are being touted as a speedy new way to get ahead in your career. These short courses let you build a skill you need—and only the skill you need— without committing to a longer qualification.
But will earning a microcredential really lead to better employment opportunities? Let’s look at the evidence.
Are microcredentials a fad?
It’s easy to wonder if all the hype around microcredentials is just that—hype.
However, there’s a reason the government introduced regulations around these courses in late 2021. And there’s a reason 36 out of 42 Australian universities now include microcredentials as part of their course offerings.
Microcredentials are here to stay—and they’re changing how higher education is accessed and delivered.
Much like the pandemic showed us that working from home was the future, rising tuition fees and constant industry changes have encouraged universities to add this flexible new style of training. These fast certification courses make it easier to dip in and out of uni when you need to, throughout your life.
Who will get the most out of enrolling in a university microcredential?
We’ve outlined the benefits of university microcredentials before. They only run for 10-16 weeks, they’re covered by HELP funding, and they focus on building a specific aptitude that you need right now. But who are they designed for?
You should consider a microcredential if you want to:
- Add a skill that you currently lack to your resume
- Gain a technical skill for a particular work task
- Understand a topic enough to be part of the conversation in your workplace
- Boost your confidence so you can go after a new role or promotion
- Refresh your knowledge so you can return to your industry after a break
While upskilling is a popular reason to enrol in a microcredential, it’s not the only reason. There are also introductory microcredentials you can use to gain credit for uni. High school students can even enrol in microcredentials to get a head start on the future.
But do employers value microcredentials?
The big question, of course, is whether employers will care that you’ve earned a microcredential when you’re applying for jobs.
"They do have a lot of credibility with employers, depending on your area,” Professor Liz Johnson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education at Deakin University, recently told ABC Radio National. “IT is the classic example. If you've got certifications of certain skills… that's often a prerequisite for employment in the industry.”
“In other areas, microcredentials might assist employers in looking at you, or assist you in doing your job.”
Employers tend to give more weight to courses that come from a reputable microcredential provider, like a university or TAFE. This is because university microcredentials must be assessed at an industry level and fill an industry need.
These Australian companies encourage staff to upskill through microcredentials
Many of our country’s biggest corporations recognise the value of university microcredentials. They know developing their people at a tertiary level helps them remain competitive, better prepare for projects, and retain staff for longer.
Telstra is one example. The telecommunications giant has microcredential programs in place with RMIT, UNSW and the University of Technology Sydney. Employees are encouraged to enrol in courses on big data, software networking and cyber security because these topics are a priority for the organisation. Employers like Google, Microsoft and EY (formerly Ernst & Young) also have microcredential programs.
Universities are seeing a lot of interest in courses around leadership, business, resilience and sustainability, staff from Griffith University and the University of Queensland told the Financial Review.
That backs up what we're seeing here at Open Universities Australia.
Industries where microcredentials are most popular
People in almost any industry can benefit from an intensive upskilling course. But students have shown us they are most interested in these fields.
As you might have guessed from the employers we listed above, microcredentials in tech are going off. Employers desperately need their staff to understand cyber security, data science and smart technologies like automation and artificial intelligence to keep up, and they’re searching for people who can learn these skills as quickly as possible.
Some major ICT employers are even accepting applicants without university degrees, provided they have the necessary microcredentials, because skills shortages in this area are so high in Australia.
Business and marketing
We see a lot of demand for microcredentials in business, finance and marketing through Open Universities Australia. It makes sense—there are so many emerging technologies, management techniques and specialties to learn.
Students are boosting their skills in leadership, conflict management and strategic planning, to name a few. They’re also quickly learning practical skills in data analysis and social media marketing so they can take on new challenges at work.
Educators have long completed their continuing professional development (CPD) requirements through online courses. So it’s no surprise there has been a steep rise in the popularity of microcredentials for teachers.
Popular topics include inclusive education practices, social and mental wellbeing in the classroom, and STEM teaching approaches. Some teachers also use microcredentials to train for leadership.
Microcredentials in healthcare are popular because health professionals have to keep their skills sharp to deliver the best possible patient care. These courses help workers hone specialisations, satisfy CPD requirements, and understand new government regulations.
Students are upskilling in everything from health systems and services to nursing management strategies.
So, are microcredentials worth it?
Universities, employers and industry experts seem to agree: microcredentials are worth the investment, provided you pick the right course for your needs.
Consider things like the reputation of the provider, the relevance of the course, and how it aligns with your experience before you enrol.
You can always give us a call if you want a second opinion.
Remember that since online university microcredentials are covered by full HELP funding, you don’t have to pay the fees right away. You can focus on learning first… and getting your career where you want it to be.
Compare hundreds of online microcredentials offered by leading universities.