Saskatchewan Polytechnic launched their new Surge micro-credentials on Monday, a move the post-secondary institution says will provide flexible and innovative learning options in high-demand industries such as business and technology.
Sask Polytech is currently working with leading industry partners to develop Surge micro-credentials. School officials say it will give learners the skills they need to fast-track careers, while giving employers a skilled workforce to power their industries.
“Surge is all about upskilling and reskilling, training options that are greatly needed right now as workforce needs evolve across the nation,” Dr. Larry Rosia, Sask Polytech president and CEO said during a morning Zoom conference. Ensuring that business and industry have the talent they require and that mid-career workers have access to training essential to keep their skills relevant is exactly what our new surge offerings are all about,”
The website launched Monday at https://surgemicrocredentials.com/.
Surge micro-credentials are short, focused courses that accelerate skills in specific areas. Micro-credentials document skills and are visible through verifiable digital badges in a wide range of industries and professions.
Rosia said they meet the style of learning that users prefer, either through real time meetings with industry professionals, or online courses done at the user's pace.
“Flexibility and timeliness are key benefits in micro-credentials,” he explained.
“There are other benefits. Surge microcredentials are affordable. The offerings are short and they are relevant to real world business and industry needs.
“We all know that change is all around us with endless disruptions. This was apparent long before the arrival of COVID-19.”
Micro-credentials can adapt to a changing labour marker around things such as automation and remote work.
“As I mentioned workforce requirements are evolving. Indeed, changing demographics, new technologies and changes in global markets and environmental issues and other challenges have meant business and industries and the people employed by them have to shift and adapt to remain competitive,” Rosia said.
Rosia said the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of both upskilling and reskilling. Upskilling involves teaching students new skills, while reskilling involves upgrading current skills.
Ideally, he said, the Surge micro-credit system will deliver both.
“Rather than just in case education surge represents just in time education teaching learners the skills and knowledge they need right now,” Rosia explained.
Dr. Has Malik, Sask Polytech provost and vice-president, Academic explained that the the work towards the launch on Monday has involved countless hours of planning and conceptual thinking and many meetings with important industry partners he said this innovation represents the future of education.
“We wanted to make sure that Surge mircro-credentials are truly useful for those who choose this particular learning modality as part of their learning journey, and just as important, we needed to make sure that the surge microcredentials are in fact industry recognized,” Malik said.
“The time required to complete a single microlearning event is often between three to five hours. This curricular design keeps learners engaged and provides them with a tangible progress through the course of study and every one of these micro-learning event is attached to a badge that students and learners can take with them,” Malik said.
One example he gave is a business and productivity sub-section that focuses on small business taxes including the GST obligations, exemptions and remittances. It allows learners to scroll through the various types of ownerships in the Canadian business world, something Malik said is very relevant and useful for anyone looking to upgrade their skills in this area.
In a release, Malik said that micro-credentials enable learners to keep building on the skills they’ve acquired for continuous learning and career opportunities.
Paul Carter Dean of School of Construction and Transportation acted as emcee of the Zoom event. Other guests on the event included Minister of Advanced Education Gene Makowsky, Sask Polytech board Chair Mitch Holash of Prince Albert and Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve McLellan.
“One of the things that this supplies us with is an opportunity to upskill our individuals, ourselves and of course our future workers,” McLellan said.
“All of us know that lifelong learning is critical to a successful work career whether you are an employee or an employer, lifelong learning has been critical.”
The options on the website include Live Experts where students can learn from the industry professionals at these virtual two-hour live events and Self-paced Online which was provide the most flexibility. Self-paced learning is completed on a self-made schedule within a certain timeframe.
Through the Sask Polytech learning system, students will access your micro-credential which contains two or three micro-learning badges that may include lectures, readings, assignments and other educational materials.
Surge micro-credentials are designed in collaboration with input from industry partners, including the International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII) and Microsoft. It is alsosupported by the Government of Saskatchewan.
Sub categories include Business and Productivity, Computers and Technology, Education and Early Learning and Entrepreneurship and Leadership.
Sask Polytech has been working with IMII to develop a digital upskilling micro-credential that provides digital skills training to address the technology shift the mining sector is currently experiencing.
Exact prices are available on the school website, but Malik said they range from $159 to $189 at this point.
To develop this custom micro-credential Sask Polytech has been consulting with subject matter experts from the mining industry to identify gaps in knowledge and build a digital training programto meet the training needs of IMII members.
“Micro-credentials can be an excellent upskilling optionfor the minerals sector,” Al Shpyth, IMII’s executive director said in a release.
“Micro-credentials offer both students and working professionals the opportunity to expand their skill set, illustrate competency in an area valued by industry, and indicate that they’ll be an asset to their employer. IMII’s minerals company members will find the Surge micro-credentials beneficial as they are scalable for both current and potential employees and will help resolve new and emerging skills gaps in the workforce in a quick and cost-effective manner.”
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald