Industry training organisations are delighted at news that micro-credentials will be recognised as part of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.
While not to be confused with full and formal qualifications, micro-credentials are stand-alone training courses which will help fill skill-driven shortages in the workplace.
Industry Training Federation chief executive Josh Williams says industries have been looking for new and more flexible ways to recognise skill sets developed in response to changing technologies, employment structures and work requirements.
“If anything is certain about the future of work it is that people will need to upgrade skills throughout their careers,” says Williams.
“Qualifications will remain important, but microcredentials will help people have their additional skills recognised, and will be a more efficient way to recognise additional skills and specialities, especially those gained through the workplace.”
Education Minister Chris Hipkins says micro-credentials are a response to looking at the kind of workforce needed to deliver on the significant commitments made in certain areas, including the building and construction sector, which will see thousands of homes built in the next few years under the KiwiBuild scheme.
The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) chief executive Warwick Quinn says micro-credentials are a great step forward.
“The qualifications currently available do not fully reflect how the construction industry and many other sectors operate. As technology changes and as the sector becomes more specialised, some firms no longer require, or indeed are able to offer, the scope of work a full apprenticeship requires. This affects their willingness and ability to train,” he says.
“We believe it will make training more attractive and relevant for the industry and will attract new talent at a time when we need at least 25,000 qualified people in the next five years to meet demand.”
Dan O’Hagan at Well Hung Joinery agrees it is important for the industry to have smaller and more specific qualifications.
“Not all apprentices want to spend four years in an apprenticeship, so this a great way to get the skills and qualifications you want and need,” he says.
“I think it will encourage more people into the industry, and more employers to take on apprentices as it reflects the type of environment we are working in.”
The Primary ITO is also delighted with the introduction of micro-credentials, as they will help meet pressing industry demands, including the eradication of the cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis.
Chief executive Dr Linda Sissons says the Primary ITO is “ready to go”.
“We have been developing and piloting 14 different micro-credential courses in partnership with DairyNZ, the Horticultural Capability Group and Otago Polytechnic. We lead the professional development of people in the primary sector and these time-efficient courses will help us prepare for and quickly respond to their demands, including for proactive responses to pressing biosecurity threats,” says Dr Sissons.
The micro-credentials system was developed by the NZQA in close collaboration with the education and business sectors. NZQA will consider applications from New Zealand tertiary education organisations for the approval of micro-credentials from late August 2018. A separate service, available from October, will evaluate the content of micro-credentials from international organisations and New Zealand organisations that are not tertiary education organisations.