Young adults know the following struggle all too well: someone is looking for a job, so they turn to LinkedIn. They have almost finished their undergrad degree and are prepared with an internship or on-the-job experience. However, almost all of the jobs listed require skills that they were never told about or trained for. Hopes for grabbing that job right out of undergrad are fading quickly.
There is a new feature being offered by Northwestern to combat this struggle: micro-credentials.
Micro-credentials are an alternative way of learning and can be done over a relatively brief time. They allow individuals to meet their personalized learning goals by gaining skills necessary for their field or job interests.
The current job industry contains a skills gap that is widening by the day, and micro-credentials are attempting to make that gap a little smaller. They provide an opportunity to learn something and they allow a student to show a potential employer that they have invested in learning a skill in itself.
Erica Vonk, director of Center for Innovation & Leadership, said, “They’re a great way for students to stand out and showcase their skillsets in an easy-to-understand format.”
Upon seeing the widening skills gap, NW sought to help the problem and consulted with colleges in other parts of the country and found that 95% of human resource managers across different industries were interested in the micro-credentials of potential hires.
Nathan Phinney, vice president for academic affairs, said, “We received feedback from local employers about just-in-time training and professional development needs. We wanted to see if we could support local businesses in this way.”
NW has also established two exciting new partnerships in order to show the completion of a micro-credential. When a student completes one, they will receive a clickable e-badge. This badge can be displayed to show that the student has now mastered a certain skill or specified knowledge area. They include the date the badge was earned, the issuing institution, and other pertinent information.
NW has partnered with Credly Inc for the digital badge display. Further, NW has partnered with LinkedIn in order to enable the student to display the badge on their page, add it as a link on their resume or embedded it into email signatures.
Vonk said, “Maybe you liked the content that was part of a larger NW class and want to focus more directly on one subject. Maybe you want to highlight something you are skilled at besides just listing on a resume as ‘proficient.’”
Micro-credentials offer focused learning. Even though they are still in their beginning stages at NW, micro-credentials are already being offered in areas like oral and written communication, leadership, diversity and bias and more.