What Are Micro-Credentials Really Worth?

By: Emma Rose Sep 20, 2022

What Are Micro-Credentials Really Worth?

A metal sculpture by George Rickey recently sold for $260,000. To someone not interested in modern art, that might sound like a huge amount to pay for five metal rods welded together. But, people who know the artist and his work see the value of the piece.

In education, it’s sometimes easy to forget that not everyone is in the know. When talking about things like micro-credentials, the value seems clear: they make professional learning accessible, affordable, and efficient for students. Yet people outside the world of education, namely employers, don’t always understand the point.

Colleges and universities know they have a beautiful piece of art, but employers may not have enough information to understand its value. They’re looking for something known and comfortable. This presents an opportunity for higher ed marketers to help employers them see the unique value of micro-credentials.

No one program or marketing team can solve this problem alone, but we all can be part of the solution. Here’s to higher ed marketers already starting the conversation with employers in their communities. For everyone else, here’s a primer to help you get started.

Unraveling the Communication Challenge

When it comes to micro-credentials in higher education, the communication challenge is two-fold. First, there’s no accepted definition of a micro-credential. Some programs use the term to talk about the course itself. Others use it to describe the digital badge that students can share with employers to prove their skills.

Second, employers have varying degrees of confidence in the idea of micro-credentialing. They may believe that micro-credentials are faddish or indicate that a student wasn’t committed enough to get a degree. Some may need convincing to accept that short courses and programs still meet high standards despite their compact size.

Colleges and universities can’t just offer micro-credentials and expect everyone to understand the value and opportunity. To truly help students succeed, they need to show employers that this is a high-quality learning experience worth investing in.

Showcase The Value of Micro-credentials

One way to tackle the first problem is to share clear messaging about what each micro-credential is and includes. Many coding boot camps are skilled at this. On web pages and other marketing material, they include:

  • Curriculum
  • Learning outcomes
  • Expected time to completion
  • Instructor profiles

They quickly communicate the rigor and learning standards behind the program. This can reassure both students and employers that the program is worth investing in. Formal documentation, like signed certificates, can also the program appear more trustworthy in the eyes of employers.

Build Marketing Around Micro-credential Advantages

Building marketing messages around the advantages of micro-credentials can help employers understand why students choose these programs. The right messaging can help replace assumptions with real information about why students choose these types of programs.

Consider messaging like:

  • The reduced time investment enables quicker upskilling and helps keep employee skills fresh and relevant.
  • Their affordability contributes to equity and inclusion by minimizing financial barriers to learning.
  • Micro-credentials support lifelong learning. Workers won’t earn a new degree every few years, but they can keep earning continuing education units.
  • Hire with confidence. A micro-credential is proof that the potential employee really does have the specific skills and knowledge employers need.

Micro-credentials are the solution to a real problem employers have. They need skilled and knowledgeable workers from diverse backgrounds, and they need them now. Micro-credentials solve, or at least address, this need.

Marketers may want to build out two different marketing plans. One for students and one for employers. In that case, each one needs its own messaging and strategy to outline the value for each audience.

Partner With Employers to Make Micro-credentials Better

Another way to prove the value of micro-credentials is to get employers involved in the process. Some programs partner with local employers or national chains to create credentials that meet specific industry needs.

These partnerships become a valuable marketing tool, reassuring both employers and potential students that micro-credentials are worth investing in. It’s one more way colleges can help students reach their professional goals.

Whether you’re crafting boot camps, short courses, certification programs, or degree programs, your works of art deserve a wide audience. Reach out to the education marketing experts at EDDY for help with marketing programs big and small.