We focus on skills that are currently or will soon be in high demand, with an emphasis on improving employability and providing opportunities to sample areas that may be of interest for future study.
While undergraduate and postgraduate degrees will always be important qualifications, the emergence of micro-degrees has implications for formal degrees.
Participants increasingly expect to count micro-degrees as credit towards graduation or as a means of demonstrating readiness for formal studies leading to a degree. And we know that employers are looking for micro-certificates to codify so that they can be recognized and grouped with those of other training providers.
Frameworks for this are being developed. The Australian Technology Network (a consortium of Australia’s top technology universities, including UTS) works with the Australian government and industry to help ensure that micro-degrees form a structured part of the Australian education system. ATN also offers Designing Your Future, a new series of micro-certificates to help people navigate workplace change and achieve their career goals. Designing Your Future is offered at all six universities and can be credited towards further study.
Similarly, the New South Wales government is funding the New Education and Training Model, an industry-led micro-certificate offering linked to Western Parkland City. This enclosure approach will provide micro-credentials to thousands of people based in Western Sydney, supporting new industries that will drive NSW’s economic growth.
Business and industry also recognize the benefits of lifelong learning – in terms of employee retention, satisfaction and professional development.
UTS is well known for the strong employer relationships that underpin our degrees. We’ve taken the same approach with our micro-certificates, which are often co-designed and sometimes co-delivered, with our industry partners. UTS’ partnership with Telstra is an excellent example of this collaborative approach.
Telstra and UTS have been working together since late 2019 to design and deliver training to thousands of Telstra employees around the world. This learning enhances workers’ skills in data analytics, data engineering and artificial intelligence to meet the demands of Telstra’s evolving digital and technology services business.
Telstra recognized that to truly develop specialist skills in data and AI, they needed to partner with a university to ensure strong foundational knowledge and specializations on best practices in the relevant fields, as well as academic rigor. offered by university-level learning. Telstra wanted vendor-neutral, high-quality, cutting-edge learning content that would provide a measurable improvement in skills and practice.
With academic experts from UTS working with subject matter experts from Telstra, UTS has designed and delivered six micro-certification courses to more than 1100 Telstra employees worldwide.
Like most innovations of our digital age, micro-certificates will evolve and change to meet the needs of individuals and employers, and top universities will lead this evolution. For now, they add an important new contribution to the Australian education landscape and are worth exploring, whatever life or career stage you are in.
Professor Andrew Parfitt is Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Technology Sydney.