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Built to Scale? Microcredentials Use Among Digital Professionals

Microcredentials for digital skills can provide alternative pathways for professionals without formal training or education in data science, computer science, or software engineering by showing competency in these skill sets.

Given the rapidly changing technical tools and products of the technology economy, microcredentials have potential to support the development of digitally intensive skills and workers. Using a novel labour market information source through LinkedIn profile data, this report assesses the current uptake of microcredentials in two digitally-intensive occupations: data scientists and software professionals. We compare those who have completed microcredentials with those who have not across experience levels, skills profiles, educational attainment, and other characteristics. The report’s findings inform both higher education and workforce practitioners who are building microcredentials, and policymakers seeking to understand and support this new form of learning and upskilling.


Key insights

Better data sources are required to assess the use and value of microcredentials. Future approaches could explore how private data sources like LinkedIn profiles can be used in conjunction with public data sources collected by Statistics Canada in ways that preserve and protect privacy to improve labour market analysis.

Quality assurance of microcredentials in Canada should be a priority for education leaders and policymakers. While these new alternative credentials hold promise, the absence of common definitions and quality frameworks across Canada limit their growth potential for learners and employers—the ultimate arbiters of microcredential value.

Further research should extend this analysis to adjacent occupations and fields of study. While this study focused on specific digitally-intensive roles (given that the data from online job platforms is most relevant for digitally intensive careers), several adjacent roles can be examined.

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