Why did we develop the toolkit?
There is a lot of activity and growing interest internationally around micro-learning opportunities, which includes both micro-credentials and digital badges among others. eCampusOntario has been working to support micro-learning opportunities over the last several years, and this toolkit is part of an initiative to support the development of common, open competency frameworks for in-demand sectors of the labour market. These competency frameworks will support the development of micro-learning opportunities in alignment with the eCampusOntario Micro-Credential Principles and Framework and form a key cornerstone for future workforce development activity.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic disruption has magnified the increased need for cross-occupational mobility, as some sectors are facing a lengthy recovery, while others are seeing sudden and unanticipated increased demand for workers with the right skills. While the development of common competency frameworks is not intended as a direct response to post-COVID workforce recovery and realignment, having such frameworks in place will provide for both horizontal (cross-sectoral and cross-occupational) and vertical (within occupations and sectors) skill progression, certification, and career pathways for Canadians from all walks of life.
Other jurisdictions, such as Europe, Australia and New Zealand have well defined nationally validated competency and qualification frameworks but such a formalized system is lacking in Canada at the moment. The US, although it lacks a formal national competency and qualification framework, has amassed a large amount of data within its O*Net system that tracks occupational requirements across a number of domains, from abilities, interests, knowledge and skills, to work environments, context and values. There are also a number of international initiatives underway to look at better ways of aligning competency definitions, terminology, and micro-learning opportunities across the globe, all of which will lead to more consistent and responsive ways to react to the rapid pace of change in the workforce.
A micro-credential is a certification of assessed learning associated with a specific and relevant skill or competency. Micro-credentials enable rapid retraining and augment traditional education through pathways into regular postsecondary programming.
A digital badge is a digitally issued credential that contains structured information that is standardized for easier sharing and can be evaluated and authenticated via embedded links. This leads to trusted recognition for learners and makes their credentials more portable and meaningful.