Employability and Credentials


In 2015, Beverley Oliver wrote Redefining graduate employability and work-integrated learning: Proposals for effective higher education in disrupted economies. Her paper appeared in the Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability (link).

Beverley’s paper “explores some of the trends and predictions in the rapidly changing world of work and proposes a re-worked definition of employability”. It is a time, Beverley points out, of massively disrupted economies often spurred by technological innovation. She points out “in the disrupted economy, employment no longer necessarily means winning or keeping for the long term a traditional, full-time position in a company, organisation, small business or institution”. Beverley adds “‘being employed’ in the twenty-first century increasingly means not just ‘working full-time or part-time’ but ‘finding and creating meaningful paid and unpaid work that benefits employees themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy’”. “Employability is about being employable, regardless of the prevailing economic circumstances”.

Beverley suggests a definition of employability based on Mantz Yorke’s 2007 definition (link). Namely:

Employability means that students and graduates can discern, acquire, adapt and continually enhance the skills, understandings and personal attributes that make them more likely to find and create meaningful paid and unpaid work that benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy. (2015:59) (link)

Beverley also discusses work integrated learning and proposes a definition “work integrated learning occurs at various levels across a range of tasks that are authentic (the task resembles those required in professional life) or proximal (the setting resembles professional contexts). (2015:60) (link) She concludes that work integrated learning is “a means to an end (employability) rather than an end in itself”.

Five years later, Beverley, in a presentation to the TEQSA Experts Forum, discussed the role of micro credentials in a disrupted economy. She had written a report earlier in 2019 (link). Her report was titled Making micro-credentials work for learners, employers and providers. In the report, Beverley proposes “a micro-credential is a certification of assessed learning that is additional, alternate, complementary to or a formal component of a formal qualification”. She adds “credit-bearing micro-credentials include assessment aligned to a formal qualification level. Achievement of the learning outcomes leads to an offer of admission to or credit towards at least one formal qualification, regardless of whether or not the offer is taken up by the learner. Credit-bearing micro-credentials mirror and contribute to the academic standards required in the target qualification(s). The duration and effort required by the learner are in keeping with amount of credit earned in the target qualification(s)”.

Beverley’s report includes a visualisation of “an evolved 21C education system that will include interoperability between formal and non-formal learning so that new and prior knowledge and skills can be certified – rapidly, repeatedly, accessibly”.

Beverley explores some of these ideas in her proposed course a Certificate of Leadership in Strategic Risk Policy. The paradigm shift the course aims to bring about the consideration of risk in the policy development and implementation phases “so that emergent and unanticipated risks are mitigated”.

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