Government goes big on micro courses

Employment and skills Minister Robert announced  $32m through to 2025 for a “systemic approach to deliver micro credentials in the university sector”

The funding includes $8m for industry “to develop up to 70,” “globally relevant MCs for international and on-shore implementation.”

Skills and (acting) education minister Stuart Robert announced the funding in a Sydney speech yesterday.

The funding appears in-line with recommendations by former vice chancellors Martin Bean (RMIT) and Peter Dawkins (Victoria U) in a report on engaging industry in teaching and learning.   “There is a pressing need for closer collaboration between higher education providers and industry to better align the skills and capabilities being developed by the education sector with the changing requirements of industry,” they write.

They propose, industry and HE combine to “build responsive, industry-focused micro-credentials that offer rapid skilling into defined workplace roles.”  Such credentials should be HELP eligible.

reaction: The Australian Technology Network was quick to support Bean and Dawkin’s intent, as backing what its members already do. Although it had one ask, “assurance from the Government for new and recurrent funding so that we can continue to deliver skilling opportunities for thousands of Australians into the future.”

The Group of Eight responded that universities and VET, “must walk in lockstep together if we are going to address the current skills shortages. This requires leadership from government and industry as future employers.”

But quietly commentators suggest that the spending announcement yesterday is born of a coalition backbench and business lobby belief that universities will not work with industry unless pushed and that the micro—credentials announcement is designed to demonstrate the government wants to be seen to be doing something.

What seems strange, a learned reader suggests, is that the MC funding comes as Minister Robert was praising undergraduate certificates, without explicitly endorsing more funding.