Credentialing micro credentials
The core purpose of accrediting educational credentials is to establish their conformity with standards established for educational credentials in general, particularly those offered by other institutions and in other fields. Educational accreditation integrates educational credentials within a network of all other educational credentials and their processes for assuring standards and quality. These processes are essentially conservative, being designed to minimise the risk of a failure of standards or quality. There are also pragmatic obstacles to recording multiple credentials from different sources within education’s accreditation system.
In contrast, the recognition of expertise in employment is embedded within employment. The core criterion for the recognition of expertise in employment is the practitioner’s integration within a specific field of practice if not a site of employment. Comparability and still less similarity of practice with other fields and sites is irrelevant to the recognition of expertise in employment.
Inasmuch as micro credentials seek to develop employability they are markedly different from programs that develop educational knowledge and skills. While such micro credentials may be recognised in employment, they seem incompatible with educational accreditation. The little evidence available is that micro credentials do not have strong employment outcomes.
Micro credentials seem unlikely to address inequality in higher education which reflects deep and pervasive inequalities in society, and seem unlikely to strengthen links between education and work which depends as much on the structure of work and the labour market, and the cognitive content of jobs.