Micro-credentials: Unlocking the potential

16 January, 2024

Kāpuhipuhi Wellington Uni-Professional occupies a distinctive position in addressing the learning and development needs of industries. Our collaboration with organisational partners enables us to tailor micro-credentials that precisely align with specific requirements. With a strong industry focus and a learner-centric approach, micro-credentials are gaining popularity as a bridge between industry demands and learner accreditation.

Understanding Micro-Credentials

Micro-credentials are standalone credentials designed to meet industry needs, certifying the achievement of a specific set of skills and knowledge relevant to industry requirements. Assessed against the NZ Qualifications Framework (NZQF), micro-credentials are quality assured by Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington, ensuring they adhere to a defined standard.

Their quality design, delivery and assessment is consistent with university and workplace expectations. The practical knowledge and skills they deliver can be applied and assessed in a professional context accessible to the professional learner and workplace. Assessment is generally a reflection of practice, or evidence of skills applied in practice.

The Significance of Micro-Credentials

Industry-led micro-credentials play a pivotal role in closing the gap between workforce requirements and the accreditation needs of learners. For organisations, they can be especially useful in meeting regulatory requirements. For learners, these credentials offer a unique opportunity to upskill in a way directly relevant to their roles, allowing flexibility in learning alongside their work commitments.

Micro-credentials can be delivered through various formats, including a mix of online and in-person sessions, fully online (live or self-paced), in-person sessions (either in a series or as a block course), or through on-the-job assessments. They can be publicly available or tailored for specific clients or industry groups, making them a versatile solution.

Development and Delivery Process

At Kāpuhipuhi Wellington Uni-Professional, our range of micro-credentials spans from the equivalent of a first-year bachelor's degree to post-graduate level. Micro-credentials can be stacked to provide a pathway to further education without the commitment of a traditional lengthy qualification in a specific area. Co-designed with industry partners, these credentials can be customised to meet specific industry or organisational requirements, ensuring relevance and applicability. See our growing selection of publicly available micro-credentials.

digital accessibility micro-credential
digital accessibility micro-credential
a boy studying on a completer in a park

International Context and Regulation

While micro-credentials are now available internationally, the criteria may vary. In New Zealand, they are reasonably regulated, with the NZ Qualifications Authority defining them as small units of learning, consisting of 5 to 40 credits. This regulation ensures a clear understanding of what constitutes a micro-credential.

Micro-credentials in Practice: Digital Accessibility

The New Zealand Government Web Standards outline accessibility and usability requirements for public digital products and services. These standards specify that government departments must ensure digital services are accessible and useful to everyone, including disabled people.

As more services go online, people who are unable to access online services become increasingly disadvantaged. The Department of Internal Affairs, responsible for the leadership and governance of these standards, identified this significant gap in digital accessibility and approached us to develop a micro-credential to meet this emerging need.

To make online services accessible to everyone, Department of Internal Affairs and disabled people’s organisations worked collaboratively with us to define the learning objectives, learning activities and appropriate assessment to develop a small micro-credential (of 5 credits).

The programme of study drew on insights and lived experience from disabled people to support building empathy with a variety of users in digital services. The assessment tasks were designed to support the application of learning in the workplace through designing, testing, or developing accessible content, or through effectively communicating best practice in digital accessibility to others. This was one of the first micro-credentials to be approved and delivered by a university in a New Zealand programme of study and has remained a popular credential. See it here.

Where to from here?

Since micro-credentials were added to the NZQF in 2010, a number of micro-credentials have become available through Kāpuhipuhi Wellington Uni-Professional, however there is much more to come.

More recently we have developed and delivered micro-credentials for the Department of Internal Affairs (one on digital accessibility and another on privacy for the public sector). We also recently collaborated on another, Cybersecurity Essentials, in partnership with Cisco. Currently we are running a pilot in the justice and education sector.

As workplace needs evolve and new needs emerge, some organisations will have well-defined and established professional pathways already in place, while others do not. Micro-credentials provide the opportunity to bridge these gaps and create credentialling pathways.

Micro-credentials present a transformative approach to learning, catering to diverse needs and preferences. If your organisation identifies skill and credential gaps or wishes to explore how micro-credentials can benefit your industry, please reach out to our General Manager – Programmes  tania.mcgowan@wellingtonuni-professional.nz. Let Kāpuhipuhi Wellington Uni-Professional be the catalyst for unlocking your potential through tailored learning solutions.