23.07.2021

The perils and potential of micro-credentials for ALE

Micro-credentials have the potential to be a tool that can boost access and participation to lifelong learning. They might even attract a larger and more diverse number of learners. However, they also bear certain risks that need to be taken into consideration.

The Open Consultation on Micro-Credentials, launched by the European Commission, was open until 13 July.

Read the full statement of EAEA: The perils and potential of micro-credentials for ALE (pdf)

Summary of EAEA’s statement

  • Micro-credentials could pave the way for more inclusive education and training offers and could be a relevant form of qualification in particular for learners who cannot access other types of qualifications, such as migrants and refugees. Micro-credentials could be an encouraging way to boost confidence and further steps.
  • EAEA regrets seeing no mention of disadvantaged groups in the Final report: A European approach to micro-credentials.
  • Micro-credentials can be a solution to reducing socioeconomic inequalities in education and training across the EU but should not replace full study programmes (thus full qualifications) and measures to ensure equal access to these.
  • Micro-credentials should be extended to non-formal education providers.
  • Care should be taken when approaching quality assurance (QA) standards as often these are far too rigid for non-formal education providers, especially in non-formal adult education. QA standards should be moved towards learner-centred processes.
  • Civil society organisations active in education and training, should meaningfully be involved and consulted in the design and implementation of the European micro-credential approach.

It is imperative that the European framework embraces micro-credentials not only to fulfill employment and labour market needs but also to take into account learners’ personal development and fulfillment, and stringent conditions should apply to private providers accordingly. Micro-credentials could potentially disrupt the governance system in which education systems operate (particularly public institutions), thus comprehensive guidance should be provided to the Member States to develop a system prioritising public offers and having learners’ needs at the centre.

Micro-credentials must neither lead to a two-class system of provision (one for credentials, the other non-formal) which only recognises and values formal and formalised learning. Additionally, the decision to use micro-credentials as validation processes should always remain a choice for the learner. If they want to follow their learning pathways in a completely non-formal way, they should be able to do so, and such an informal path should not be less valued than a formal one.

More information

Gina Ebner
e-mail: gina.ebner(at)eaea.org

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