The government of the Canadian province of Alberta has announced a CA$8M, two year micro-credential program. This follows a CA$5.6M 2021 pilot program. But how successful was the pilot? How much shorter, cheaper, and successful are the micro-credentials, compared to existing vocational and university short qualifications? Do these help disadvantaged students, or primarily help those already better off?
Who Gets the Help?
I was unable to find any report on the outcomes of Alberta's pilot microcredentials program. It would be useful to know the completion rate for low socioeconomic status students. Also a useful rubric would be the increase in income of graduates, compared to those who undertook existing conventional short vocational and university qualifications.
One of the problems which has occurred with previous initiatives, such as Distance Education, and Massive open online courses (MOOCS), is that they tend to benifit those who are already well off, and well credentialed. Funding bodies, and educational institutions tend to underestimate the resources needed, and the cost of supporting the students who need the help.
How micro are the microcredentials?
The previous Australian government talked about microcredentials, but what they actually funded were conventional 12 week vocational & university certificates. Those are useful qualifications, but were not really new, or micro, credentials. The Australian government funded six month undergraduate certificates. These were a new credential, but were mostly implemented by universities packaging up existing courses from the first semester of a degree. That allowed for rapid implementation, and nesting with degrees, but not much in the way of helping disadvantaged students, or addressing new industry needs,