Do micro-credentials hold relevance in the job market?

Micro-credential courses have their advantages and disadvantages

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Today’s generation is restless. They want everything fast — here and now. That is why, there is so much hype around micro credentials. So, what are micro-credentials?

Short-term micro learning certificates or badges that people can obtaining after completed a course in a short period of time, or at their own pace and be certified in that skill, are called micro-credentials. For instance, a person can be a certified expert in data science post completing a short course in the topic. The question that needs to be answered is, whether these short courses and micro-credentials are considered valuable.

Are these micro-credential badges or certificates relevant in the job market?

There have been many discussions on whether micro-credential certifications will replace the traditional bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and diplomas.

If people can stack several certificates in specialised areas of expertise, why would they need to complete a full-time educational course, which costs more money and is more time consuming?

“Doing too many micro-credentials does not make sense until and unless one can establish the pattern of these certifications. If they are in a similar domain, then they may be beneficial, otherwise they will only raise doubts”

Emmanuel David, HR Leader

Some studies in the US have found that as of now, people do not see micro-credentials as substitutes for full-time degrees. In 2020, a study conducted by some researchers found that almost all people who completed these micro-credential courses, were either mid-management senior professionals or experienced employees who wanted to add more value to their CVs. They were all either graduates or degree holders.

The research even found that many companies in the US believed in skill-based hiring, but all the people they hired recently, were degree holders.

Talking to some HR leaders, HRKatha found that while micro-credentials do have some advantages in the job market, they also have some disadvantages. “Some of these micro-credential course are quote relevant, but one needs to see whether they are actually relevant to one’s career,” points out Emmanuel David, HR leader.

Pros

Increases employability – All experts HRKatha spoke to agree that micro-credentials do enhance job prospects. “No doubt it does increase a person’s suitability for a job. However, just doing a short-term course is not enough, one has have to prove how one has used that skill in one’s regular day-to-day work,” says Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Active Pharma.

Helps in upskilling and promotions – In addition to giving an edge in the job market, micro-credential courses serve as great tools for people to upskill themselves in their existing areas of expertise. Additionally, HR leaders share that companies use these short-term courses to create a succession pipeline, as well as internal movement if required.

Affordable & time saving – Generally, these short-term courses are rather inexpensive and affordable. Therefore, people no longer find it necessary to complete higher education in order to upskill themselves or seek a promotion. They can easily use these short-term courses to advance their careers.

Cons

Irrelevance: While undertaking a short-term course, one needs to examine how relevant that course is in the job market. There are many course available on many learning platforms of the world. However, many a time, there is no demand in the job market for certain areas of expertise. Therefore courses pertaining to these areas are irrelevant. “One will need to analyse how that course will help achieve one’s passion or career of choice,” says Singh.

“No doubt it does increase a person’s suitability for a job. However, just doing a short-term course is not enough, one has have to prove how one has used that skill in one’s regular day-to-day work”

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Active Pharma

Too many can harm: As David mentions, many professionals take pride in flaunting the number of certifications they have and boast about the numerous micro-credential courses they have completed. This does not send out a good message to the recruiter. In fact, recruiters may be wary of such people. “Doing too many micro-credentials does not make sense until and unless one can establish the pattern of these certifications. If they are in a similar domain, then they may be beneficial, otherwise they will only raise doubts,” says David.

Not a substitute for a degree: As of now, we cannot say that such micro-credential certificates can replace full-time degrees in the near future. “These micro-credentials are just skills that serve as add-ons to the CV. These are not enough when one is looking for a job,” asserts Singh.

He goes on to add that it is all a matter of choice. That is, whether a person wants to make a career in a specialised field or remain in a general role. Such micro-credential certifications are quite specialised and targeted.

Scope is short term: Many experts around the world have also questioned the scope of such micro-credentials. Generally, these courses are designed to solve a short-term problem and upskill a person for the present. Many believe that people require a general knowledge of the domain to stay relevant and add value in the future.

As the HR experts say, it is well and good to pursue a micro-credential course as long as it adds value to one’s career and job. However, it is essential to determine the relevance of that knowledge and how it will add value to one’s job or profession.

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