CANADA: New White Paper from Express—Microcredentials: The Quiet Revolution of Skills Training

In the past few years, there has been a major shift in skills training and education upgrading in Canada, which has gone under the radar. Microcredentials, otherwise known as MicroCreds, have ballooned in numbers and popularity, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, and now educational institutions across Canada offer them. A white paper released by Express Employment Professionals delves into the who, what, where, when, why, and how of microcredentials. 

For years, the Canadian economy has suffered from a skills mismatch—unemployed Canadians do not have the necessary skills for the jobs currently open. That skills mismatch is a major part of the reason that Canada has more than 700,000 job vacancies despite there being 1.3 million unemployed Canadians. This means 1.7 unemployed Canadians were available for every vacant position.   

In other words, there isn’t a shortage of labour in Canada—but a shortage of skills. Microcredentials are increasingly seen as a key solution to fix this skills problem. 

These shorter, more customizable, and often more affordable, learning opportunities can help job seekers and existing employees secure in-demand jobs by upskilling without committing to a much longer traditional degree program. This results in companies getting the skilled workforce they need sooner. 

The new white paper, titled “Microcredentials: The Quiet Revolution of Skills Training in Canada,” shows that companies want and need candidates with the requisite skills now, with three-quarters (74%) saying they are desperately seeking more skilled workers but don’t have the time to wait for them to receive a two- or four-year degree. Even more companies (80%) wish there was a way to expedite the time it takes for workers to obtain the necessary skills for a job.  

Job seekers agree, with an even higher proportion (79%) saying they want to further their skills but don’t have the time to complete a traditional degree, and most (87%) saying they wish there was a way to get the skills necessary for a job faster. 

The survey data also shows that both employers and job seekers value microcredentials, with half saying microcredentials are just as valuable as traditional two- or four-year degrees (48% of both employers and job seekers) and almost a quarter saying microcredentials are more valuable than traditional degrees (21% of employers and 22% of job seekers).  

In addition, a large majority of employers (76%) and job seekers (84%) agree microcredentials provide the workforce with skilled workers in a timely manner. 

Using exclusive survey data prepared by The Harris Poll for Express and recent economic data, as well as drawing on the real-life experiences of Express Employment Professionals franchise owners and the companies they serve, this white paper examines what microcredentials are, which institutions offer them, how to verify their legitimacy, and their role in the future labour force. What becomes clear is that microcredentials are here to stay. 

“Every aspect of our lives is becoming customizable on demand,” said Express Employment International CEO Bill Stoller. “Why shouldn’t education follow suit? Microcredentials—or microdegrees—are proliferating as a cost-effective way for job seekers and employees to develop their skills and prove their talents on their own schedules.” 

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