Employer Demand for Microcredentials On the Rise, New Study From UPCEA and Collegis Education Reveals

Nearly 100 percent of organizational leaders see benefits from employees having microcredentials

OAKBROOK, IL — February 22, 2023 — Employer demand for microcredentials is on the rise, according to a new study released today by Collegis Education and UPCEA, the association for college and university leaders in online and professional continuing education. The report, “The Effect of Employer Understanding and Engagement on Non-Degree Credentials,” includes the viewpoints of leaders from 500 organizations on their perceptions of the value of non-degree and alternative credentials.

Ninety-five percent of those surveyed said they saw benefits from microcredentials, particularly because they show an employee’s willingness to develop their skills (76 percent); demonstrate initiative (63 percent) and are an easy way to communicate employee competencies and skills (60 percent). Organizational leaders were particularly interested in stackable credentials leading to a degree with 80 percent saying that increased their appeal.

“UPCEA’s mission is to support colleges and universities as they evolve their programs to meet the changing needs of employers and adult students. Microcredentials can play a critical role in the new economy. However, similar to how online degrees were perceived two decades ago, some are critical about the quality of non-degree programs, despite a lack of evidence to support a systematic problem,” said Jim Fong, Chief Research Officer, UPCEA. “The findings from the Collegis/UPCEA research show that organizational leaders value microcredentials and non-degree programming but are often unaware of them. Those that are aware agree that quality can be addressed with greater collaboration between employers and higher education.”

Although many employers recognize the value of alternative credentials in today’s workforce, a pervasive issue lies in their standardization and how to properly assess the validity and applicability of courses and certifications. Although 20 percent of survey respondents had little or no concern that non-degree or alternative credentials will have an adverse effect on the workforce, 17 percent were concerned about wrong/not relevant credentials/lack critical skills/training, 12 percent cited quality of education/validating credentials, and 11 percent specified a lack of educational/professional experience.

When choosing a college or university to collaborate with to develop a microcredential program, organizational leaders said they are incentivized by proof of program effectiveness (65 percent) and more than 50 percent want to play a role in the program’s development. While the report reveals a significant microcredential market opportunity for higher ed, only 44 percent of organizations reported having been approached by a college or university about a potential program.

“At Collegis, we have helped many colleges and universities develop successful microcredential programs for the last decade. Most recently with Saint Louis University’s Cannabis Science and Operations microcredential program where our partner identified an emerging industry and the opportunity to develop a program to support an expanding field’s workforce,” said Tracy A. Chapman, Ph.D., Chief Academic Officer at Collegis. “We worked with UPCEA on this study because we wanted broader insights into how the business world perceived microcredentials and if there are untapped opportunities for higher ed to leverage these types of programs to create a steady stream of enrollments and new revenue streams. The answer is, unequivocally, yes.”

The complete study is available here.

About Collegis Education

Collegis Education is higher ed’s innovation enabler, empowering schools with a better vision of how they fit into learners’ lives and what’s possible when they do. With more than 10 years’ experience as industry pioneers, we’ve proven how leveraging data, tech and talent can transform everything from student experiences to business processes. As higher ed evolves, you’ll need a thought partner and tactical pro, not a pre-packaged product or platform. Our strategic services allow institutions to leapfrog from wondering to doing, implement long-term growth plans and build in-house capabilities to thrive in a complex market. Learn more


UPCEA is the online and professional education association. Our members continuously reinvent higher education, positively impacting millions of lives. We proudly lead and support them through cutting edge research, professional development, networking and mentorship, conferences and seminars, and stakeholder advocacy. Our collaborative, entrepreneurial community brings together decision makers and influencers in education, industry, research, and policy interested in improving educational access and outcomes. Learn more at