Supporting micro-credentials in the training system

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What are micro-credentials?

Micro-credentials are short and targeted training products.

Why are micro-credentials important?

Micro-credentials in vocational education and training (VET) offer more flexible ways of learning. They also deliver in-time training to meet emerging and urgent skills needs. Micro-credentials support people to move between jobs and industries and can be used as building blocks towards full qualifications.

Why is reform needed?

Micro-credentials were recently identified in two prominent reviews as an area for reform. The review, Strengthening Skills: Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training system, led by the Hon Steven Joyce, noted their potential for providing more flexible training options for industry. The review recommended consideration for further encouraging their use.

The Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF Review) later picked up on this recommendation and explored the importance of micro-credentials. The AQF Review recommended that policy guidelines be developed to allow the recognition of micro-credentials for credit.

These reviews highlight how micro-credentials can support opportunities for flexible learning and training. They also highlight how micro-credentials help modernise Australia’s training landscape, as part of broader reform work in the VET system.

What is being done?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a range of new skill sets were developed and endorsed to respond to areas of critical workforce, training and skills needs. These include:

  • new infection control skill sets for workers exposed to unprecedented and unusual infection risks. These applied to the following sectors:
    • retail
    • food handling
    • transport and logistics
    • health
  • an extra cross-sectoral skill set to address infection control needs across a broader range of industries
  • three new skill sets to help small businesses adapt to operating in an online environment and assist workers secure employment in areas of labour market growth
  • two new skill sets endorsed to support those with changed skills needs arising as a result of COVID-19. These included VET trainers and front-line workers in customer service roles.

The importance of micro-credentials was also recognised under the JobTrainer Fund as part of the economic response to COVID-19. The Australian Government partnered with state and territory governments to establish the JobTrainer Fund. JobTrainer provides around 300,000 more training places – including short courses – in areas of skills needs.

Courses under JobTrainer can:

  • support entry into new roles
  • deliver training to meet specific technical or licensing requirements
  • enable young people to gain some initial skills or try training in an area of interest.

For information about the courses available, visit the MySkills site.

As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Australian Government will offer states and territories an additional $500 million over two years to extend the JobTrainer Fund from its current end date of 30 September 2021 to 31 December 2022, contingent on matched funding from states and territories. The JobTrainer extension will continue the strong collaboration across the Commonwealth, states and territories that has been evident since all First Ministers signed the Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform in August 2020.

Under the Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform, the Australian, state and territory governments have committed to developing and funding micro-credentials, in addition to full qualifications.