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Developing micro-credentials becoming go-to for changing Sask. workforce

Click to play video: 'Micro-credentials demand increasing for up-to-date skills within the workforce in Sask.' Micro-credentials demand increasing for up-to-date skills within the workforce in Sask.
WATCH: Micro-credentials are redefining the landscape of education and are quickly being adopted as an innovating learning tool for those working in high-demand industries – Dec 5, 2021

There is an innovative option for people looking to get into the workforce or upgrade a skill their skills.

Micro-credentials are growing in popularity as a viable alternative to pursuing a diploma or degree, and committing to multiple years of post-secondary schooling.

This is backed by the provincial government in building a skilled workforce that meets the requirements of Saskatchewan’s economy and growth plan priorities.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic Provost and vice-president Has Malik said with the labour market adjusting, many workers are looking for a career shift and need quick ways to expand their employability.

“Whether its digital transformation, automation, or remote-working advances in technology are driving the rapidly changing needs of industry.”

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Deputy Education Minister of Student and Corporate Services David Boehm said the short focused programs are geared towards meeting the needs of Saskatchewan’s ever-growing economy.

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“It’s a great way for an employer to work with post-secondary institutions to develop that micro-credential and allow their staff to gain those necessary skills and advance to remain competitive.”

Saskatchewan Polytechnic offers ‘surge micro-credentials’ that provide flexible learning in a number of high-demand industries.

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Saskatchewan Polytechnic president and CEO Larry Rosia said there have been lots of layoffs in some areas of the workforce, while others need workers fast. Micro-credentials help with producing qualified people in days or weeks rather than years, he said.

“The need to upskill or reskill was already evident before the rise of COVID-19. The pandemic has only made this necessity more urgent,” said Rosia.

Malik said micro-credentials are built to allow flexibility in student schedules.

“If they can’t commit to a two-year program β€” that demographic is growing. All the studies show that the flexibility is a key component to the learner landscape.”

“They really focus on one of two skill-sets,” Malik said. “They are not focusing on the length of time but on the competency. So, competency-based learning rather than how much time you are spending in a classroom.”

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Fields such as IT, business learning, entrepreneurship, leadership programming, education, and early learning are some of the courses offered.

Corporations like Microsoft Canada or the mining and minerals industry have teamed up with Saskatchewan Polytechnic to keep their workers up-to-date.

“They approached Sask Polytech to develop micro-credentials for their employees to become more apt with working in the digital world as they tend to automate and change the way they do their mining for example,” said Boehm.

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First Nations University of Canada Vice President Academic Bob Kayseas said his institution is developing several new micro-credentials β€” a step toward providing new opportunities for learning, and filling gaps in the workforce.

Courses are offered at the University of Regina Continuing Education Centre, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the University of Saskatchewan and the First Nations University of Canada.

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