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2023-02-21T19:40:06+00:00October 13, 2022|

Microcredentials: Practices for Developing Employer Partnerships 

Research shows schools consider microcredentials an important strategy for their future – and a majority of employers have indicated they would want to be approached by a college or university to develop microcredentials. However, for the unprepared launching a microcredential can be a heavy lift. Read on to find out what’s needed to successfully launch and deliver the microcredentials employers – and prospective students – want. 

Partnerships Are Necessary for Profitability When Scaling 

Generating a meaningful amount of revenue from microcredential programming requires enrollments at scale. The burgeoning and highly competitive non-credit market has driven down the price, and microcredentials, by design, are “short bursts of education” completed in a manner of weeks or months. Therefore, the smaller amount of revenue realized from each enrollment must be offset by a greater number of enrollments. Traditional marketing and recruitment efforts rarely yield the volume of enrollments necessary to generate a material increase in revenue. However, partnerships with major employers to support their talent needs can provide a sustainable stream of enrollments in your microcredential programs.   

Substantial higher ed–employer partnerships often start with the president and CEO, or a board member and CEO, identifying a mutually beneficial opportunity. High-level commitment on the part of both parties to create the partnership provides a strong foundation for success. Expertise and resources dedicated to fostering the partnership, meeting the expectations of the employer partner, and delivering the education and training are critical to sustaining a long-term partnership.  

Requirements for Delivering Microcredentials at Scale 

Key functions required to develop and deliver microcredentials at scale in partnership with major employers are similar to developing degree or certificate programs for any other learners. However, to effectively support the microcredential market, each function must be more nuanced in order to serve both the employer partners and the learners:  

  • Business Development including identifying employers for potential partnerships, creating the initial partnerships, marketing programs to employees, managing the partnership and seeking opportunities to expand the partnership.  
  • Technology Ecosystem management and support to ensure a frictionless learning experience and a straightforward administrative interface.   
  • Analytics and Administration provides reporting on progress on learning, satisfaction and ROI to employer partners and to internal stakeholders. 
  • Learner Experience functions encompass the student journey from the point of inquiry to the point of completing a course or program. 
  • Development & Delivery encompasses the design of microcredential courses (including teaching modalities), identifying subject matter experts to inform content, identification and evaluation of instructors, and scheduling.

Establishing the internal organizational and functional structures and processes in advance increases an institution’s likelihood of successfully partnering with employers. It positions the institution to offer employers a compelling partnership opportunity.   

How to Get an Employer’s Attention 

Employers are bombarded daily with messages from external parties trying to get their attention. To capture an employer’s attention, institutions can ensure their messaging addresses the main points employers care about, including: 

  • Retention: Remind employers that their staff want education benefits, and microcredentials provide help staff upskill and reskill, which ultimately benefits the employer.  
  • Customization: Clearly identify the employer’s business problem(s) that could be solved by partnering with your institution. Include the ability to customize a solution specifically for the employer. 
  • Relevancy: Evidence that the partnership and resulting microcredentials are keeping pace with industry needs.  
  • Simplicity: Evidence that the institution will make the partnership a streamlined experience for the employer.  
  • Stackability: Illustrate how microcredentials can serve as ladders to larger credentials, certificates and/or degrees.  

Is Your Institution Prepared to Offer Microcredentials to Employers? 

Creating and offering microcredentials can generate meaningful additional enrollments and revenue for higher education institutions. However, doing so requires structures, processes and partnerships different from those typically used to support matriculating students.  

If your institution wants to launch a microcredential program but doesn’t have the expertise or infrastructure to support it, Collegis can help. Learn how we worked with Saint Louis University to launch its successful Cannabis Science and Operations Microcredential that led to record enrollment.  

“We thought this might be one of those programs where we initially saw a lot of interest and excitement and then it would trail off. We are not seeing that, and I think that is attributed to the Collegis team working on the marketing and engagement campaigns and enhancing them as we move forward. Together we need to constantly evolve the current program, keeping it fresh and changing to meet what the industry is telling us and continuing to update our messaging for potential students.” – Troy Hargrove – Associate Dean, School for Professional Studies – Saint Louis University

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