Microcredentials and the labor market – a solution for everyone?

Microcredentials are being talked about not only as a hope for education, but also as an opportunity for all participants in the labor market, with different backgrounds and of all ages. Today we will look at the opportunities that microcredentials offer to two different groups: people over 50 and juniors.

Read on and you’ll find out:

  • Why microcredentials can be a helpful tool in the labor market.
  • How can microcredentials benefit different age groups, including people over 50 and juniors?

Microcertifications and the labor market – who can they help?

Microcredentials allow us to confirm various skills that the diplomas or certificates we have obtained do not tell us about, and thus that we would find it difficult to boast about, for example, in a resume. This is because a large part of the knowledge we possess is acquired outside of school, college or other organized forms of learning. 

Among other things, we learn: from tutorials on the Internet, from apps on our phones, and by taking on new tasks in the workplace. Language learning apps, for example, are very popular, and many people also use the help of so-called online communities, sharing the results of their work with other interested parties and getting feedback on it. We expand our knowledge and acquire new skills also by pursuing our passions or hobbies – comments Wojciech Gola, a key expert on the design of digital solutions for skills development in the project “Microcredentials – piloting a new solution to support lifelong learning. 

Skills acquired in an informal way can make you stand out from other candidates for a position during recruitment. However, in order to use them as an asset, we must first confirm them with, for example, a credible certificate. This is what microcredentials are useful for. 

For those grappling with the challenges of the changing job market, this is a huge opportunity. Traditional resumes, which usually include only diploma-confirmed successive stages of education and work experience, do not fully reflect our capabilities, competencies and acquired skills. How much this matters is best demonstrated by the examples of extreme age groups in the labor market – Generation Z on the one hand, Generation X and millennials on the other. 

Microcredentials vs. re-employment – an opportunity for people over 50

There is already a lot of talk about the fact that it is very difficult for people over 50 to find a job. Meanwhile, in some time it may be necessary. In the case of many of us, this will also involve the need for reorganization. For example, people who have been working physically for most of their lives at a later age will no longer be able to do the same job and, in order to support themselves, will have to look for an occupation of a different nature. 

A solution that could help – not only for people over 50 – to improve their chances in the labor market – including when it is necessary to seek employment in a new profession – are micro-certifications. With them, each candidate can confirm his or her skills in various areas, often ones that a small group of people can boast of. The condition for success here is, of course, a change in the attitude of employers, who will have to look at employees solely in terms of their qualities and skills, and be less guided by issues such as the age of candidates. 

Microcredentials – none of us is inexperienced

The occupational group at the other extreme, the juniors, is also struggling to find employment. In their case, the issue is not so much age as inexperience. 

Recently, this has been evident, among others, in the case of IT job seekers. Although, as research conducted by Grant Thorton shows, while the number of offers on the Polish labor market continues to fall, the situation in the IT industry is relatively stable, because experienced employees can still count on interesting proposals. The situation is different with candidates belonging to the so-called juniors. A report prepared by Experis Manpower Group and the Justjoin.it portal shows that only 5 percent of job offers in the IT industry are addressed to representatives of this group. 

Theoretically, the IT industry was supposed to be an Eldorado for workers, the professions associated with it are still often referred to as “jobs of the future.” Yet for employers, the experience of employees is of great importance, so the youngest ones, students or recent graduates, may have trouble finding their first job. 

Why might microcredentials be the solution to this problem?  Confirmation of skills aims to prove that we can do specific things. We can acquire them at different stages of life, even as early as childhood. This means, among other things, that someone who accumulates micro-certifications proving, for example, his or her skills or knowledge in the IT area, even before earning a college degree, can boast experience in this field. After all, it is not the case that a person who has not yet defended his or her master’s thesis has never programmed, for example. With micro-credentials, she can prove that she has done so, e.g. through self-study, and meets the criteria for admission to the position, although she does not necessarily have work experience behind her. 

Using these two occupational groups as examples, we can see that microcredentials can be useful in the clash with the requirements of the modern labor market. If employers open themselves up to this form of skill confirmation, they will be able to obtain information about the specific skills of employees, which will allow them to select the best candidates for given positions. Factors such as their age or gender will hopefully lose relevance to them in the meantime.