In this report, the Lifelong Education Commission seeks to explore the emerging role of microcredentials in modular learning and how a common understanding can enable alternative pathways to higher level qualifications in the UK.
The UK Government’s focus on modular, flexible, lifelong learning is designed to address the skills needed to drive higher levels of productivity. Microcredentials could be an important part of this approach, allowing employees and businesses to engage in bite sized learning that is targeted on specific industry needs. Their short, focused design could enable an agile response to current and future skills gaps. As jobs and the demand for skills continue to change, people will continually need to re-train, re-skill or redeploy to remain economically competitive.
Government (DfE) should undertake a mapping exercise of all micro-learning courses in the UK to gather evidence and inform future policy making and funding for this form of learning.
Government should consider a regional pilot to test ideas, including peer consortia for the co-design, co-development, co-delivery and co-funding of microcredentials to level up skills.
Universities UK, AoC, and the Collab Group should promote national dialogue to mature the level of awareness, understanding and potential of microcredentials in the UK.
Higher education providers should promote these forms of learning more widely with employers in local labour markets and seek to recruit harder-to-reach students.
Adult careers advisors will also need to understand and communicate the benefits of micro-learning to enable learners to make choices.
Higher education institutions in the UK should move towards a common definition.
Government should ensure that microcredentials, with a value of less than 30 credits, should qualify for funding via the Lifelong Loan Entitlement.
Units of accreditation for a microcredential should be costed at a price that is proportional to fees for an undergraduate degree.
Higher education providers should consider subscription-based funding models.
Government should also consider tax incentives for employers to invest in this form of workforce training.
Local government and Mayoral Combined Authorities should use devolved funds to invest in the development of microcredentials as affordable solutions to local skill needs.
Government and regulatory bodies with oversight of higher education should adopt a streamlined approach to regulation and data requirements of those taking microcredentials.
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