Universities offering micro-credential courses aimed at upskilling employees

Sustainability, digital transformation and fintech among hundreds of short online courses to keep workers abreast of changes

The courses are delivered fully or partially online and include areas such as sustainability, digital transformation, aircraft leasing and fintech. Photograph: iStock

Irish higher education institutions have announced hundreds of short, flexible, university-accredited courses aimed at boosting the numbers taking part in lifelong learning.

A platform to host the courses, MicroCreds.ie, which has been developed by seven universities, is due to be officially launched by Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris and Minister for Enterprise Simon Covenny at an event on Wednesday.

The courses, typically between six and 12 weeks in length, are delivered either fully or partially online and include areas such as sustainability, digital transformation, aircraft leasing and fintech. Costs typically vary from about €450 to €2,500.

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The move follows a recent OECD skills review for Ireland which warned that many adults are at risk of falling behind as they do not have the right skills to thrive in their current employment and are unprepared for changes in the world of work.

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The MicroCreds project, funded by the Higher Education Authority, is led by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) in partnership with Dublin City University, Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Galway and University of Limerick.

First in Europe

The IUA said the platform was “the first of its kind in Europe” and brought together hundreds of short, accredited courses into a central place for learners and enterprise. It said it would make lifelong learning easier and more accessible for both individuals and enterprise.

In advance of the launch, Mr Harris said in a statement that it was vitally important that upskilling and reskilling opportunities be made easier and more accessible for everyone so skills shortages could be addressed.

Mr Coveney noted the findings of the recent OECD report into skills needs in Ireland and said that “micro-credentials offer organisations of all sizes a solution to upskill and reskill employees in a way that suits both the employee and the employer”.

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Prof Kerstin Mey, president of the University of Limerick and chair of the IUA’s council, said Ireland had an “extremely ambitious” lifelong learning target of 60 per cent of adults engaging in some form of upskilling by 2030.

She said micro-credentials, which were “informed” by enterprise and quality-assured by leading universities, offered a “perfect solution to help Ireland to reach these targets”.

“The flexibility and agility of micro-credentials means learners can address specific skills needs in a way that suits them,” she said.

She said the University of Limerick had developed micro-credentials in collaboration with enterprises in areas such as AI and machine learning, sustainable organisations and supply chain management.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent