- Jan 15
Are Digital Credentials Challenging Bachelor's Degrees?
A 2016 survey sponsored by the University, Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) found that 13 percent of member educational institutions were offering micro-credentials and 18 percent were involved in digital badging.
Great...but what value do employers assign to those same micro-credentials?
After all, they’re the ones who hire the candidates who've invested the time and money to earn them.
In 2018, UPCEA surveyed U.S. employers asking for their opinions on the value of digital credentials. HR managers from 750 companies responded. They represented a broad range of industries and organizational sizes.
Here are some of the survey findings:
- Sixty-one percent of hiring managers considered online credentials to be equivalent to those completed at brick-and-mortar colleges and universities, a substantial increase over the 34 percent reported in a similar 2010 survey.
- Many of the employers viewed credentials as symbols of commitment to continuing education and professional development.
- HR managers agreed that micro-credentials were more skill-centric than broader, traditional credentials like college degrees. Some managers felt that micro-credentials complemented degrees but did not replace them.
- Employers valued micro-credentials more when they incorporated work-integrated learning and industry-validated curriculums. They wanted to see students working on real-world projects and gaining academic credit for that.
- Many employers embraced “just-in-time” micro-credentials offering short, skills-focused courses and internships. They favored a logical progression of courses, known as “stacking,” that earned credit toward a college degree.
- Fifty-three percent of hiring managers agreed with the following statement: The proliferation of new types of educational certificates, credentials and badges makes it harder to sort out quality.
In a 2017 Forbes article, author Ryan Craig predicted a future explosion of diverse credentials targeting specific job skills for specific positions and sometimes for specific employers.
These future credentials would feature cognitive, non-cognitive and technical skills enabling job candidates to hit the ground running on their first job.
Craig asserts that college degrees in the U.S. began as elite credentials for the very few who could afford higher education. From the post-WWII years through present day, the aura of elitism surrounding a bachelor’s degree has faded as millions of students availed themselves of higher education thanks to a multitude of government and private tuition-assistance programs.
Per Craig, job candidates whose credentials (including micro-credentials, certificates, badges, internships, etc.) signal specific workforce skills and knowledge will be perceived by employers as elite candidates.
Craig predicts that the common bachelor’s degree will be deconstructed in the coming years—shattered into a panoply of different credentials, each conveying differentiation and even elitism to a distinct set of employers or for a distinct set of job functions.
That's a lot to think about!
The world of credentials is changing. There are more choices than ever. Have questions about which type of credential to consider for your current or future credentialing program? Why not schedule a free, no-obligation, no-stress, 30-minute call with one of our friendly (and really smart) psychometricians? Just click here to get started. Talk soon!