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31.10.2019 - 3 min. Read

5 ideas to advance micro-certification in Ontario

How would a shared recognition system that provides a more skills-focused, job-ready view of learner abilities benefit higher education and industry in Ontario?

That’s where micro-certification comes in. eCampusOntario believes a nimble and practical recognition system is essential for Ontario’s changing workforce. To help foster a healthy micro-certification ecosystem that benefits all Ontarians, eCampusOntario recently published a principles and framework document to guide micro-certification development.

Lena Patterson, eCampusOntario’s Senior Director of Programs and Stakeholder Relations and Emma Gooch, Program Coordinator, talk more about recent work in this field.

What must happen for micro-certifications to be an authentic, widely-accepted form of recognition?

At eCampusOntario, we believe that success with micro-certification requires system-wide thinking. By system-wide, we mean colleges, universities, professional bodies, community agencies, employers and more working together to achieve a common understanding and a common goal. Everyone we work with is genuinely interested in strengthening the skills dialogue and creating meaningful education-to-industry pathways for our students.

What could be the role of a mainstream micro-certification system?

The goal is to create a recognized and verifiable trail of evidence that proves an individual has a particular skill or competency that is relevant to the workforce. We see it as complementary to the deep domain knowledge that we get at college or university. In order to maintain relevance, this system of recognition needs to be nimble and responsive to the environmental shifts that impact the economy. When higher education institutions and employers jointly identify areas for skill development and collaborate on a solution, everyone wins.

How did eCampusOntario and its working group come up with the guiding principles around this framework? Why these values?

The working group had representation from 19 of our member institutions, as well as employers, industry partners, and public sector organizations. It was important to us that all of these voices were included in the development of the framework because we need something that will work for everyone at the table. By engaging different sectors in a conversation about principles, we could think about micro-certification on a system level and identify commonalities and aspirational objectives shared across the province.

How will this framework benefit those that are interested in running their own micro-certification initiative?

The framework is intended to provide high-level guidance for micro-certification initiatives across the province. It is designed to contribute to the development of a connected and cohesive skills recognition system that serves all Ontarians. But it is also a living document. Partner organizations and institutions are encouraged to test the framework and principles in their contexts and share their findings publicly to enable the development of a healthy micro-certification ecosystem that serves all Ontarians.

What opportunities are available for Ontarians who want to be involved with eCampusOntario’s micro-certification initiatives?

There are many opportunities! We’re just beginning our work with member institutions and their industry partners to pilot micro-certification projects that test the principles and framework we have developed. We’ll use the findings of these pilots to refine future iterations of the document – we’re always learning.

We’re also planning to host a micro-certification forum in February 2020. Watch for the Save the Date, which will be announced first at TESS 2019! Stay tuned to our social media channels or reach out to us directly for more news on micro-certification initiatives.

Download eCampusOntario’s Micro-Certification Principles and Framework.