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Adapting to the New Normal:

By IRYNA PALTSEVA - September 7 2023

Microcredentials and Lifelong Learning

By Iryna Paltseva

The realities of the modern world dictate their own rules. Several decades ago, the life of an ordinary person was simple and straightforward: go to school, get an education, find a stable job, and work until retirement. This was the career path for millions of people on our planet.

However, today the world is changing so rapidly that many people struggle to adapt to the new rules and find themselves falling behind. New professions with high demands constantly emerge while many well-known and stable job types become outdated. The rapid integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent months has shaken not only the IT industry (which is accustomed to shocks and innovations). It hit also almost every sector of business, ranging from the restaurant industry and customer service to the management of multimillion-dollar companies.

Evolving Careers: Navigating the Changing Landscape of Work and Education

Naturally, people experience tremendous stress – how can they avoid being left behind in life and remain relevant to employers? 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Nevertheless, one obvious solution is the constant pursuit of self-improvement. It is no longer enough to rely on knowledge acquired 20, 10, or even 5 years ago to function effectively. Technical knowledge is completely updated within 2 years and becomes outdated within 4 years.

But what can be done? An adult who needs to provide for their own sustenance, support a family, and often pay a mortgage for a home cannot afford to quit everything and go back to university. Moreover, college education itself costs a considerable amount of money, not to mention the several years of life that need to be devoted to obtaining a full-fledged education.

As practice shows, in many situations, obtaining a college degree is not necessary. Employers are quite satisfied with microcredential programs. These are special short courses on specific narrow topics that allow individuals to “brush up” their knowledge in a particular field in just a few months and obtain the desired certificate.

We have already discussed in detail the fact that microcredentials are the next “big thing” in adult learning (https://learningcurves.org/microcredentials-the-next-big-thing-in-adult-learning/). But where exactly can you obtain the desired education? 

Microcredential Revolution: Gaining a Competitive Edge in the Job Market

There are several institutions and organizations in Toronto, where you can receive microcredential certificates. Here are a few options:

University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies offers a wide range of professional development programs and microcredentials in various fields. They provide flexible learning options, including online and in-person classes.

Centennial College provides microcredential programs in areas like healthcare, business, technology, and more. They offer a combination of online and in-person learning options.

George Brown College offers microcredentials in fields like business, health sciences, community services, technology, and more. They have flexible learning options, including part-time and online courses.

Humber College provides microcredentials in areas such as business, healthcare, technology, and more. They offer both online and in-person learning options.

Toronto Metropolitan University Chang School of Continuing Education; offers microcredentials in areas such as business, technology, design, and more. They have a variety of certificate programs designed to enhance professional skills.

These institutions have a long-standing presence in Toronto and have built relationships with employers in the area. However, it’s important to note that individual employers may have different criteria and preferences when evaluating microcredentials. It can be helpful to research specific industries or companies you are interested in and see if there are any specific microcredential programs or institutions they tend to value. Additionally, gaining relevant work experience, networking, and showcasing your skills and achievements can also play a significant role in impressing employers.

Thriving in the Digital Age

In colleges, programs that require in-person attendance are usually offered. However, we live in a post-COVID world where many programs remain in an online format. If you are more interested in remote learning or if your family situation doesn’t allow you to commute to a university (as is often the case for mothers with young children), globally recognized programs for asynchronous online learning can come to your aid.

Regarding online education, there are several reputable websites that offer high-quality courses. Here are some of the best websites for online education:

  • Coursera (www.coursera.org): Coursera partners with top universities and educational institutions worldwide to offer a wide range of courses in various subjects. They provide both free and paid courses, and you can earn certificates upon completion.
  • edX (www.edx.org): edX is a platform that offers courses from renowned universities and institutions. They provide a vast selection of courses across multiple disciplines, and many of them are free to audit. Certificates are available for a fee.
  • Udemy (www.udemy.com): Udemy is a popular online learning platform that hosts a wide range of courses taught by instructors from around the world. They offer courses in various categories, including business, technology, personal development, and more. Prices vary, and you have lifetime access to the courses you purchase.
  • LinkedIn Learning (www.linkedin.com/learning): Formerly known as Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning offers a vast library of online courses across various subjects, including business, technology, creative skills, and more. It is a subscription-based platform that allows you to access all the courses with a single membership.
  • Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org): Khan Academy focuses on providing free, high-quality education for anyone, anywhere. They offer courses mainly in mathematics, science, and computer programming, targeting students from K-12 to higher education.
  • FutureLearn (www.futurelearn.com): FutureLearn offers a wide range of courses from leading universities and institutions worldwide. They provide both free and paid courses, and you can earn digital certificates upon completion.

These websites are highly regarded for their course offerings, instructional quality, and user-friendly interfaces. However, it’s always a good idea to read reviews and explore the course descriptions and syllabi to find the most suitable courses for your needs.

There is no doubt that the rapidly changing world calls for continuous learning and adaptation to stay relevant in the desired field. Microcredentials and online education have emerged as effective tools for acquiring new skills and knowledge in a shorter time frame. By actively pursuing microcredentials individuals can equip themselves with the necessary skills and knowledge to adapt to the demands of the modern world, staying competitive and achieving success in today’s dynamic job market.

Iryna Paltseva is a Ukrainian Freelance Writer who relocated to Canada under the CUET (Canadian-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel) program. You can contact her at: irashel3@gmail.com.


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