Micro-credentials are the new big thing in VET training

Individuals and businesses accessing stand-alone subjects, or bundles of subjects that do not form a nationally recognised course, make up the single largest segment of enrolments in vocational education and training (VET) in Australia, according to new research.

New analysis of short-course training in VET, often referred to as micro-credentials, by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) reveals for the first time the size, extent, and characteristics of this form of training.

In 2019, 2.6 million students were enrolled in subjects that do not form part of a nationally recognised course, which the report refers to as ‘subject bundles’, out of a total of 4.2 million students who were enrolled in all VET.

Enrolments in subject bundles dwarf other recognised forms of short-course training – in 2019, 76,565 students were enrolled in training package skill sets and 93,555 were enrolled in accredited short courses.

Subject bundles typically comprise three or fewer subjects, undertaken with a relatively small number of registered training organisations (RTOs), with 456 RTOs reporting 90 per cent of student activity in these subject bundles.

The analysis clearly indicates that subject bundles are mainly concerned with regulation and skill maintenance such as workplace safety, emergency preparedness and authority to operate.

More than 93 per cent of subject bundles are funded on a fee-for-service basis.

NCVER managing director Simon Walker said short-course training is an increasingly important form of training, particularly as governments respond to the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the VET sector, training package skill sets and accredited courses are recognised forms of short-course training.

“The research however reveals that there is a surprising amount of other non-nationally recognised short form training being undertaken.

“The fact that the employer or the student is prepared to pay for this training is in many cases due to a regulatory requirement, but it also implies that the training is seen as having value as a micro-credential in the marketplace.”

See An analysis of ‘micro-credentials’ in VET here.

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