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Sask. Polytech creates program to help learners gain new skills in weeks

Surge micro-credentials will provide flexible and innovative learning in a growing number of high-demand industries such as business, technology, the trades, natural resources and more
sask polytech spring 2019
Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Scott Hellings photograph)

Saskatchewan Polytechnic is changing the way students learn by offering a new program to help learners — particularly those already working — attain new skills in a matter of weeks instead of years.

Surge micro-credentials will provide flexible and innovative learning in a growing number of high-demand industries such as business, technology, the trades, natural resources and more. The educational institute is working with industry partners to develop this initiative to give learners the skills they need to fast-track their careers and employers the skilled workforce to power their industries and Saskatchewan’s economy.

Sask. Polytechnic announced the launch of Surge micro-credentials during an online event on Oct. 18. 

“The need to upskill and reskill was already evident before the rise of COVID-19. The pandemic has only made this necessity more urgent,” said Dr. Larry Rosia, president and CEO. “There have been a tremendous number of layoffs in some sectors while others are in desperate need of more qualified people.

“As well, many workers have come to realize that they need to upgrade their skills to maintain their careers or transition to new ones. Surge micro-credentials are the fastest way to upskill and reskill. Learners can obtain new skills in weeks, not years.”

Micro-credentials have also been designed with input from top-tier industry partners, including the International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII) and Microsoft, with support from the provincial government. With these partnerships, Surge programs offer skills that can be timely, relevant and in high demand.

“Whether it’s digital transformation, automation or remote-working, advances in technology are driving the rapidly changing needs of industry,” said Dr. Has Malik, Sask. Polytech provost and vice-president of academics. “As labour markets adjust, workers are looking to shift career paths and need quick, flexible ways to expand their employability. 

“Surge micro-credentials can help build resilience to the changes happening around us. Micro-credentials enable learners to keep building on the skills they’ve acquired for continuous learning and career opportunities.”

Since employers have been adjusting to the economic pressures of the pandemic, Sask. Polytech is ready to work with industry leaders to design and develop micro-credentials for their employees, said Rosia. These partnerships ensure that the micro-credentials reflect and connect students with real industry skills and demands from today’s top employers.

Sask. Polytech has been working with IMII to develop a digital upskilling micro-credential that provides digital skills training to address the technology shift that the mining sector is currently experiencing, the virtual crowd heard. 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 program to meet the training needs of IMII members.

“Micro-credentials can be an excellent upskilling option for the minerals sector,” said Al Shpyth, IMII’s executive director. “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.”

Visit surgemicrocredentials.com for more information about this program.

 

The organization explained during the launch that Surge micro-credentials are short, focused courses that accelerate learners’ skills in specific areas. Micro-credentials document skills and are articulated with verifiable digital badges in various industries and professions.