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B.C. colleges embrace microcredentials to create a more skilled workforce

Posted on November 19, 2021

Young Asian man using tablet and laptop computer

Originally published in The Georgia Straight

One of the hottest buzzwords in B.C.’s post-secondary world is microcredentials.

In September, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training released a framework document [PDF] with a set of guiding principles to ensure a consistent and coordinated approach to microcredential programs across public colleges, institutes, and universities.

“Microcredentials support lifelong learning by enhancing access to post-secondary education through shorter, competency-based training opportunities,” Advanced Education and Skills Training Minister Anne Kang said in a news release. “Our government recognizes the need for opportunities to upskill and reskill, and these microcredentials will assist workers who want to transition to in-demand jobs.”

One of the first institutions out of the gates with microcredentials was Vancouver Community College. Last year, as a Certiport-authorized testing centre, it began offering a Microsoft Office Specialist exam.

Those interested in this microcredential have the option of taking VCC courses in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to improve their skills. Students who pass the test receive digital badges that can be posted on LinkedIn profiles.

"I’m proud of our post-secondary institutions for stepping up to the challenge and delivering these courses to help meet the needs of a rapidly changing workforce,” Kang said.

In September, the B.C. government announced $5 million in funding to support the creation of 35 more of these programs at public post-secondary institutions.

VCC’s dean of Continuing Studies, Adrian Lipsett, told the Straight by phone that his school is developing a microcredential in ecommerce that will include three courses.

“It doesn’t need to be yearlong,” Lipsett said. “It can be quite short – quite compressed – and meet the student where they need it.”

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