Flexible, inclusive learning opportunities
On 16 June 2022, the Council of the European Union (EU) adopted a Recommendation on a European approach to micro-credentials for lifelong learning and employability. The Recommendation seeks to support the development, implementation and recognition of micro-credentials across institutions, businesses, sectors and borders.
An effective culture of lifelong learning is key to ensuring that everyone has the knowledge, skills and competences they need to thrive in their personal and professional lives.
Micro-credentials certify the learning outcomes of short-term learning experiences, for example a short course or training. They offer a flexible, targeted way to help people develop the knowledge, skills and competences they need for their personal and professional development.
Shorter forms of learning opportunities than traditional qualifications, such as micro-credentials, are being developed rapidly across Europe and around the world. These opportunities are made available by a wide variety of public and private providers in response to the demand for more flexible, learner-centred forms of education and training. They also have the potential to offer education and training opportunities to a wider range of learners, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
However, without common standards ensuring their quality, transparency, cross-border comparability, recognition and portability, micro-credentials cannot reach their full potential.
Building trust and flexibility
The Council Recommendation aims to
- enable individuals to acquire, update and improve the knowledge, skills and competences they need to thrive in an evolving labour market and society, to benefit fully from a socially fair recovery and just transitions to the green and digital economy and to be better equipped to deal with current and future challenges
- support the preparedness of micro-credential providers to enhance the quality, transparency and flexibility of their learning offer to empower individuals to forge personalised learning and career pathways
- foster inclusiveness, access and equal opportunities, and contribute to the achievement of resilience, social fairness and prosperity for all, in a context of demographic change and throughout all phases of economic cycles
The Recommendation provides building blocks including a definition, standard elements for describing micro-credentials, and principles for designing and issuing micro-credentials.
As a result, micro-credentials can be developed, used and compared in a coherent way among Member States, stakeholders and different providers (from education and training institutions to private companies) across different sectors, fields and borders. It will support the building of trust in micro-credentials across Europe.
The Recommendation will support the development and uptake of high-quality and transparent micro-credentials and outlines key areas for action in this field in education and training and labour markets policies. This will enable people to learn new skills in a tailored way, inclusive for all.
The European approach to micro-credentials is a key component of the Commission’s vision to achieve a European Education Area by 2025.
Commission support for micro-credentials ecosystems
The Commission will support the implementation of the Recommendation by
- fostering dialogue on how to use and adapt existing EU tools and services to support the development of micro-credentials by all types of providers
- supporting the sharing of information and promoting best practices
- exploring how the Europass platform could support the technical implementation of the Recommendation
- providing funding support through the Erasmus+ programme
The Recommendation is based on a proposal put forward by the Commission on 10 December 2021, building on a wide consultation and evidence-gathering exercises. The Recommendation on a European approach to micro-credentials was adopted alongside another proposal on individual learning accounts on 16 June 2022.
Both proposals were part of the twelve flagship actions announced in the European Skills Agenda (July 2020).
Micro-credentials also feature in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan (March 2021) and the Commission Communication on achieving the European Education Area by 2025 (September 2020).