—— New opportunities on the education market: microcredentials in the form of continuing education and training courses are considered the way of the future and promise specialization over the short term. However, there is still a lack of standards.

Companies all around the world are suffering from a shortage of skilled workers—pushing politicians to keep coming up with new ideas. In Poland, the government recently called on retirees to work longer. In France, the retirement age was also recently raised and in Germany, politicians are writing new immigration laws, among other things, to help companies fill some 600,000 vacancies. 

Instead of giving up, companies are getting creative. Rather than search for new personnel, they increasingly want to enhance the qualifications of their current employees, who may have some, but not yet all, of the skills they need for a particular position. This concept is called upskilling and is particularly noticeable in areas such as sustainability, coding and artificial intelligence. Because a complete course of study isn’t necessarily required for upskilling or reskilling, or would take too much time, companies are starting to rely on what is known as microcredentials. Employees get them by completing online courses or advanced training in specific fields. These are often very small-scale and extremely specialized but are effective for highly complex professions as well as for jobs such as cashiers or logistics specialists. 

The European Commission considers microcredentials to be “a key element” in building a European education area.

TÜV SÜD Academy is also among microcredential providers, conducting examinations and professional training courses around the globe for a wide range of topic areas, including quality management or project management. A strong focus is placed on competency-based learning and on-the-job training. 

“We view digital learning nuggets as an essential part of any company’s training portfolio,” says Karoline Morales who is responsible for digital learning at TÜV SÜD Academy. “Microcredentials are an attractive way of making learning tangible and allow for fast results in competency development.” 

The European Commission considers microcredentials “a central element” in developing a European Education Area and has already issued a recommendation in favor of such credentials. It views them as an opportunity for “lifelong learning” and believes that they will help people acquire necessary skills “in a flexible and targeted manner.” The Commission further underscores that there are already numerous offerings in this field, but they so far lack one thing: a cross-border and cross-industry standard. Developing one will be of central importance in the coming weeks and months. The advantage of a uniform framework is that microcredentials would be standardized all across Europe. Over the long term, they could even become the foundation for international comparability.