The shift towards technology and online blended learning platforms is continuing to gain popularity across the UAE. Globally, a majority of organizations believe that online skilling and blended learning are cost-effective and can keep their workforce efficient while offering a flexible and convenient approach to learning for working professionals.
Data Analysts, Digital Media Specialists, Community Managers, App Developer Sustainability Managers are all new roles that didn’t exist ten years ago according to the World Economic Forum. This means that those who graduated from college just five years back already lack essentials skills that were at that time not offered as part of their formal education. Another study conducted by Grovo states that 90% of marketers struggle with daily activities because of a shortage of digital skills, and only 8% of surveyed companies feel strong in digital marketing.
Job requirements are quickly evolving. While it is impossible to specifically describe the kind of jobs that will be available in the next decade or so, recent data from various studies indicate that 40%-60% of the jobs of 2030 do not yet exist. Therefore, career-minded individuals will need to continue to acquire and develop just-in-time and just-enough skills on the go to progress in their careers.
Over the past decade, it has become increasingly obvious that traditional methods within higher education are becoming less and less effective and the gap between formal education and the industry is wider than ever. One of the keys to unlocking creativity, ingenuity and much more is taking a new approach to professional learning. In a world where new forms of contribution are valued, learning opportunities need to be more personalized, practical, applied and nimble. It is at this juncture that micro-credentialing, also known as nano-credentialing, has surfaced as the ideal solution for today’s career-driven individual. A nano-credential is a tailored micro-credential developed to meet an industry need.
The formal education model often presents a dilemma that requires an individual to dedicate anywhere between one and four years to pursue a higher education degree or diploma before any type of employment or in order to progress further in their career. While some methods of informal education such as short-course certificates, workshops, and seminars sometimes lack a certain authenticity, nano-credentials are certified higher education courses provided by renowned universities and delivered in small chunks, developing specific skills required to get onto the job immediately or to progress in a current role, while still adhering to the same academic rigor that traditional higher education learning adheres to. The shift in perceptions is clear—71% of learners in the Middle East feel that a degree or certificate from a vocational college or trade school is more likely to result in a good job with career prospects than a university degree.
The ever-changing nature of the current workplace and the growing time demand in today's jobs have made it progressively difficult for employed individuals to take time off from their careers to pursue any type of up-skilling or formal education. In some parts of the world, this challenge has been addressed effectively by eLearning.
New and flexible forms of delivery are also available today. These new tools use even more advanced technologies than the early eLearning adopters, but take a more blended and assisted approach to learning. Following the theme of just-in-time and just-enough learning, nano-credentialing has become an obvious answer to the concerns many working adults have. This includes specific skills-based training as well as addresses the inability to take extended time off from work to develop new skills. This type of learning provides flexibility, with the option to mix online learning with offline training in groups that add an additional layer of responsibility, guaranteeing results. Nano-credentialing is also personalized and self-directed, focused on needs, competency-based and practical.
With the dynamic nature of the current workplace, self-development and continuous education and up-skilling have become crucial, not only for career progression and advancement but also for career survival. Through the application of micro-credentialed, blended learning programs, career-minded individuals can focus more on competitive and applied courses. This includes learning through project-based learning, localized case studies, resolving business challenges and capstone projects and assessments.
Nano-credentialing delivered in a time-efficient, blended form is an area that workplaces will need to review to remain competitive by ensuring employees are continuing to develop new capabilities. This type of learning is flexible, portable and is cost-effective to implement providing a structured approach to learning on the job.
Majid Mneymneh is the Vice President, Commercial for the Higher Education and Corporate at Pearson Middle East