EDUCATION LINKS CASE STUDY

Micro-credentials community of practice

Engineer

A workshop group considered the opportunities, challenges and practicalities of using micro-credentials in engineering education/training. They recognised micro-credentials can take a variety of forms but industry involvement is essential.

As part of the Engineering e2e micro-credentials initiative, Project Manager Brenden Mishchewski set up a community of practice to explore current programmes and assess how micro-credentials can be used by engineering educators and employers.
*See below for background to Engineering e2e's micro-credentials initiative

Community of practice

The community of practice was established in 2018 and held its third meeting in April this year. It includes representatives from institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), industry training organisations (ITOs), professional bodies, the New Zealand Board of Engineering Diplomas (NZBED), the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

Pilot micro-credentials programmes

Project Managers gave presentations about their Engineering e2e-funded pilot programmes, noting the problems they were designed to address and the solutions they offered.

The pilots differ in terms of their target audiences, but all view micro-credentials as a tool to upskill workers and attract new learners into engineering education, with the potential to increase enrolments in the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE) and Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech).

TEC is funding five pilots of micro-credentials in engineering, some of which are described in these case studies:

Training organisations involved with micro-credentials

Representatives from BCITO (Building & Construction Industry Training Organisation), Primary ITO and MITO (Motor Industry Training Organisation) gave presentations about their experience in implementing micro-credentials programmes.

BCITO found considerable interest in micro-credentials from employers across a variety of organisations. Initial trials attracted 150 enrolments, of which 80% were associated with employers and trainees new to industry training.

The Primary ITO presenter noted that industry support was central to development and that micro-credentials can be useful in providing a clear signal to employers about their employees’ skills and competencies.

MITO has developed micro-credentials using eLearning modules and practical assessments offered to secondary school students in the Startup programme. This programme is a partnership with schools and business to promote the automotive industry.

TEC investing in micro-credentials

TEC is investing in micro-credentials and is currently inviting tertiary education organisations (TEOs) to apply for funding for micro-credentials.

Participants noted the potential value of ‘stacking’ micro-credentials. It was reported that the bundling of micro-credentials so that they could lead to more substantial qualifications was valued by learners and industries.

NZBED

Bill Sole from the NZBED shared the Board’s perspectives on micro-credentials, noting that a key priority for progress on micro-credentials programmes was focusing on the needs of industry and developing solutions for these. The Board was keen to support innovative approaches, such as those shared at the workshop, which aligned with its quality assurance practices.

What next?

Participants agreed that the community of practice served a useful purpose in bringing together people with a wide range of expertise and helping to reduce duplication of effort. They noted that this model is well-aligned to the kinds of collaborative approaches that the government is seeking through the reform of vocational education and should continue to be supported.

Next steps for the group include:

  • Engaging people with a breadth and range of expertise in the use of micro-credentials, particularly outside of campus-based education
  • Building the network of participants across the vocational education system
  • Helping to shape the reformed vocational education system.

There are two more workshops planned this year – one focused on sharing the approaches and emerging results of the engineering education micro-credentials, and a second that involves and engages participants across the wider system.

*Background

Engineering e2e funded research into micro-credentials and how they might be used to improve the uptake of engineering education in New Zealand, particularly of the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering. The 2017 report Micro-credentials: a model for engineering education? recommended that micro-credentials be trialled. In 2019, Brenden Mischewski wrote the report Micro-credentials in engineering education to provide a background for the NZBED.
Info sheet: Micro-credentials     
Report: Micro-credentials in engineering education
Report: Micro-credentials - a model for engineering education?

Our thanks to Brenden for his time and advice; if you have any queries please contact engineeringe2e@tec.govt.nz

May 2019