Today’s leaders face unique challenges as change ripples through how we learn, work, and collaborate in our global communities. A worldwide commitment to address the impacts of climate change is putting pressure on organizations to plan and implement low-carbon strategies. 

Canada will need leaders with a unique skill set to drive the necessary changes ahead, but the technological, social, and environmental landscape has changed. With the right learning experiences, these leaders will be able to innovate and solve problems in new ways. 

“The future of work as we know it has changed,” according to The Conference Board of Canada, “There are opportunities to collaborate to train individuals in in-demand skill sets.” 

Organizations across the country need to consider sustainability and the concept of transition leadership to meet the needs we face as a society. Now, our workforce requires quick and convenient options that allow for upskilling and building a foundation in lifelong learning.

Flexible, affordable options to add critical knowledge in small increments widen access for individuals to explore learning opportunities throughout their careers. In addition, this shift will help fill new requirements developing across all sectors as we face the climate crisis. 

In this post, we’ll explore: 

    • How upskilling can expand potential for individuals and organizations
    • How micro-credentialing bolsters organizations and individuals
    • The benefits of micro-credentials for students and employers
    • How micro-credentialing fits into lifelong learning
    • How organizations can lead the transformation to climate resiliency
    • What the future of education can look like

How upskilling can expand potential for individuals and organizations

Post-secondary education was already being disrupted by change before COVID-19 emerged. The traditional post-secondary model doesn’t address the need for leaders to adopt the mindset they need to steward organizations through the changes needed to meet low-carbon commitments. Pathways are needed to allow individuals to build on leadership capacity and practices even in well-established careers.

“Some employers have begun questioning the connection between ‘seat time’ and education, noting that they are losing confidence that higher education graduates always possess the skills associated with their credentials upon graduation,” according to Future Skills Canada

Post-secondary education providers can help fill this gap by providing short, focused learning experiences that fit into the schedules of busy professionals throughout all stages of their careers. With expanded opportunities for rapid, relevant upskilling, both individuals and employers can explore learning experiences that better prepare their organizations for the future. 

An urgent response is needed to develop a workforce of leaders with the skills necessary to grapple with the climate-transition challenge. Organizations need people who drive transformation and embrace new leadership models that inspire change throughout an organization.

How micro-credentialing bolsters organizations and individuals

Micro-credentials are qualifications that represent assessed achievement of a subset of learning within and beyond the traditional realm of learning experiences and credentialing.  They provide recognition for what a person knows and can do at a modular level. They are essential elements in the strategy to transition our nation’s workforce to meet climate-change commitments. 

Micro-credentials are designed to meet the needs of employers and individuals looking to upskill by providing short, specific units of learning that can be accessed at any point during one’s career to add necessary knowledge.

Benefits of micro-credentials for students and employers

People can use micro-credentials to add new skills, upgrade existing ones, or validate knowledge gained through experience or prior learning. Individuals who find micro-credentials easier to add to their other responsibilities can quickly gain the mindset needed to lead in tackling the climate crisis. 

Some other benefits of micro-credentials include: 

    • Rapid timeframes to help individuals quickly gain or prove knowledge
    • Flexible nature to improve access by more people
    • Alignment with industry and workforce needs to ensure relevance
    • A greater pool of skilled workers to move into new roles focused on climate resiliency
    • Ability for workers to demonstrate commitment to professional and personal growth
    • Established value with transferability, stackability with other learning

Micro-credentials could be a solid strategy to quickly upskill Canada’s workforce to prepare for the transitions ahead.

Micro-credentials fuel lifelong learning

For many years, people saw education as a single step after graduation, leading to a life of work in a particular field or industry. However, they also expected the learning gained to support relevant work for years to come.

Today, technology and innovation drive change much too quickly for learning to be something left behind when entering the workforce. To stay up-to-date in almost any industry, people need to continually build their capacity to address new challenges in the workplace. Micro-credentials can be a perfect fit for those looking to upgrade their skills quickly. 

“Some have argued that the social and economic impacts of lifelong learning are so substantial that the concept of a learning-integrated life better encompasses its potential for expansive benefits,” reports Future Skills Canada

When people can access valuable micro-credentials that are flexible enough to fit into their work, family, and other commitments, they are more likely to be able to access learning opportunities at multiple points during their careers.

How organizations can lead the transformation to climate resiliency

Transition leadership is needed in organizations of all sizes to ensure Canadians have the knowledge and skills to meet the climate challenges we face as a society. 

Efforts have begun to create a national micro-credential ecosystem that can support the needs of employers, learners, and post-secondary education providers. This ecosystem will make it easier to assess the value of micro-credentials and other learning experiences and how they fit into a larger learning framework. 

Previous gaps have left both learners and employers uncertain about how to make decisions to move careers and organizations forward. With more research and investment, we can create stronger connections between the needs of all stakeholders across the ecosystem.

What the future of education can look like

As we grow our understanding of the enormous scale of the transitions ahead regarding climate issues, it becomes clear that the world needs new solutions. While more planning and collaboration is essential to create a robust micro-credential ecosystem across the country, momentum on this front could help us meet the challenge. 

An opportunity exists to create a micro-credential ecosystem that unbundles learning and allows individuals, employers, and post-secondary education to work together toward common goals based on these principles:

    • Employers and individuals can trust that an assessment process will reliably verify knowledge gained through learning experiences
    • Skills gained will hold value and are relevant to what’s needed in today’s workplace
    • Knowledge and micro-credentials gained can be transferred and built upon by individuals to encourage additional learning.

Identifying where we are today helps us learn how we can forge ahead. We’re disrupting the landscape in positive ways to build a learning ecosystem that addresses these challenges.

Our upcoming project with Royal Roads University (RRU) is an excellent example of the type of collaboration that will drive change forward. We’re pleased to announce the inclusion of ASI content into two courses of RRU’s Climate Adaptation Fundamentals Micro-Credential Program, including Introduction to Transition Leadership next offered in November 2022

We invite you to join us in this quest to develop a national framework for climate adaptation and transition leadership training. Contact us to learn more.