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New Zealand to launch micro-credentials system to future-proof employability

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that at the end of August 2018, a micro-credentials system will be rolled out to give both employers and people who want to keep learning more opportunities to access new skills.

According to the announcement made by the New Zealand Government, this initiative was developed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) in close collaboration with the education and business sectors.

Minister Hipkins explained that maintaining up-to-date skills will become an increasingly important way to improve and future-proof employability.

He added that while these skills will mostly continue to require a full and formal qualification, there are some cases wherein employers have indicated that learning packaged as a micro-credential would be more effective.

Micro-credentials are stand-alone education products that certify the achievement of a set of skills and knowledge required by industry, professional associations, iwi, or the community.

This will fit perfectly with the Coalition Government’s Future of Work Programme, which brings together business and workers alongside Government to plan how they will face the changing nature of work and industry training.

Minister Hipkins shared that the government is committed to creating life-long learning opportunities for New Zealanders.

This will be an important contribution to help people update their skills across multiple careers over their lifetime, as well as making it easier to refresh the skills they use in their current jobs.

The system will allow the industry to have an opportunity to work with Tertiary Education providers and Industry Training Organisations to bring training related to new or in-demand jobs to market quickly.

This is good for the employers to that they can easily access the skills they need. It is also good for providers in order to guarantee that they can respond to local demand.

Moreover, micro-credentials can address skills shortages across a number of sectors. In information technology, for instance, companies are looking for digitally skilled workers including coders and data analytics specialists.

Another example would be in the agricultural and forestry sectors, which are experiencing shortage of people capable of using specialised drone technology. In the building industry, modular design and construction are growing in use.

With the work Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa is leading through the Construction Skills Strategy and Action Plan, more people will end up pursuing construction-related careers. 

The micro-credentials system will enable more people within a shorter timeframe to be qualified within the construction sector.

Minister Hipkins said the New Zealand education and training system needs to respond flexibly and innovatively to fast-paced social, economic and technological changes.

At 5 to 40 credits, micro-credentials are smaller than qualifications and focus on skill development opportunities not currently catered for in the tertiary education system. But it will add to and enhance New Zealand’s regulated education and training system and help ensure it remains relevant at a time of rapid change.

He shared how he is looking forward to seeing how employers, industry, iwi, professional associations and others will work with education organisations to create micro-credentials that meet the skills that New Zealand needs.

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