Embracing Micro-credentials in the EU Year of Skills

An Introduction to Micro-credentials by Rosa Whitfield, Head of Teaching and Learning at The Insurance Institute of Ireland.

THE sustained development of skills has long been the cornerstone of a thriving career. With rapid transformations in our industry impacting not only what we do but also how we do it, continuingprofessional development has assumed a pivotal role in shaping professional growth.

While a four-year degree is often seen as the bedrock for entering the workforce, it is becoming clear that neglecting to build on this foundation can result in an education gap and, ultimately, a short

age of vital competencies, affecting both employers and employees.

In this EU Year of Skills, there is a renewed focus on upskilling, reskilling and continuous learning. This focus is to ensure that people get the right skills for quality jobs and help companies address skills shortages which will ultimately benefit consumers.

As a logical consequence, Higher Education institutions have built clos

e working relationships with industry, exemplified by the long-standing partnership between the Insurance Institute of Ireland and Atlantic Technological University.

This collaboration has facilitated an educational solution to address the need for upskilling and lifelong learning.

This solution is micro-credentials. Micro-credentials are specialist programmes of learning which are normally conducted on a part-time basis through online platforms, representing a flexible pathway to continuing education.

They are learner-centric to ensure optimal support for participants in developing their professional knowledge.

In truth, the concept of compact courses is not new to Ireland. The infrastructure for these certifications is well-established – what has changed is the international acceptance of these programmes.

A case in point is the recent call from the Council of the European Union to adopt a unified approach to micro-credentials across the EU, promoting lifelong learning and employability.

The recommendation stated that: Micro-credentials could help certify the outcomes of small, tailored learning experiences.

They make possible the targeted, flexible acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies to meet new and emerging needs in society and the labour market and make it possible for individuals to fill the skill gaps they need to succeed in a fast-changing environment, while not replacing traditional qualifications.

What sets Micro-credentials apart from other training?

There is a diverse range of training options available to learners, spanning from informal on-the-job training through to advanced Level 10 PhDs.

In a modern workplace, all types of learning hold significance and fulfil a specific need in the context of professional development. What sets The Institute’s micro-credentials apart is the fact that they have been developed by Higher Education Institutions, lending credibility to the learner’s certification on completion of the programme.

Furthermore, our microcredential signifies that the course has been developed in a formal way, in line with the National Framework of Qualifications’ guidelines and that it’s assessed against transparent standards.

For the learner, this means they have something portable, tangible and verifiable to show as proof of their achievements.

A 2021 Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) report into benefits of micro-credentials ascertained that microcredentials can:

  • facilitate skills education that has strong correlations to work and workforce enhancement opportunities.
  • fulfil the needs of upskilling or reskilling the workforce, particularly relevant in the context of high technological innovation and change in the economy; and
  • create customised skillsets for young professionals. Micro-credentials also offer a pathway to pursue broader qualifications and can contribute towards recognition of prior learning (RPL) for other programmes of study. Rosa Whitfield, Head of Teaching and Learning in the Institute commented, “Micro-credentials are a great way to evidence skills and knowledge in specific subject areas which is so important when demonstrating fitness and probity to the customer”.

Micro-credentials from The Insurance Institute of Ireland

Micro-credentials from The Insurance Institute of Ireland The Insurance Institute of Ireland has launched three micro-credentials: Motor Specialist, Liability Specialist and Commercial Property and Business Interruption Specialist. These micro-credentials have been developed to provide the right type of specialist training in soughtafter, technical insurance disciplines, while encompassing opportunities to meet and build meaningful relationships with like-minded professionals.

This digital badge is designed to provide an in-depth understanding of motor insurance.

It covers a variety of topics such as the Road Traffic Act, policy exclusions, public places, unlicensed drivers, contingency covers, motor fleet, and rating criteria.

The badge is designed to present a range of realistic scenarios to help learners understand how these concepts apply in real-world situations.

By completing this digital badge, learners will gain a comprehensive understanding of motor insurance and be better equipped to navigate the complexities of the industry.

The MDI-05 digital badge is designed to equip learners with the practical knowledge and technical expertise they need to confidently make key decisions in their roles.

The badge also provides a broader understanding of the strategic drivers that shape pricing, risk appetite, and policy wordings for liability insurance, which is crucial in the rapidly evolving insurance industry.

By completing this digital badge, learners will be equipped to tackle new challenges and provide innovative solutions to the insurance problems faced by the market.

This digital badge provides an exciting and diverse career path for learners seeking to build a successful career in insurance.

The MDI-06 digital badge centres on Commercial Property & Business Interruption insurance, a rapidly evolving part of the insurance industry.

With many large business customers needing complex insurance solutions, this digital badge offers learners the opportunity to broaden their insurance knowledge by working on cases across different classes of cover.

As business opportunities evolve and access to new markets increases, so do the insurance needs of these businesses, making Commercial Property and Business Interruption insurance an exciting area in which to work.

By completing this digital badge, learners will be equipped to handle the challenges of this dynamic industry and develop their roles over time as their knowledge and expertise grow.

Digital Badges

On successful completion of the content, learners will receive a certified Digital Badge, jointly awarded by ATU and the Institute.

The close link between ATU and The Insurance Institute of Ireland ensures that we will be able to continuously refine these programmes in response to changing industry needs, leveraging on the agile nature of micro-credentials.

These specialist modules are positioned at Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications and take the form of a digital badge, which is a visual, portable and easily verifiable representation of the learner’s achievement.

Participants on our micro-credential courses will benefit from the same student experience as their peers on the Higher Diploma in Insurance Management, while having the flexibility to conclude their studies after obtaining their digital verification or they may decide to continue to progress towards the larger award.

Gavin Clinch, Head of Online Learning Innovation, ATU noted that ‘At ATU we collaborate closely with industry and ensure that the learning outcomes from our qualifications reflect industry need.

Our relationship with the Insurance Institute of Ireland has resulted in modern, relevant qualifications that have been designed to support professionals in their career development goals.

We are also delighted to be in a position to launch our digital credentials which will make it easier for certified professionals to demonstrate their achievements.