Electric car making nano degree offered in micro-credential pilot

One of the micro credentials being piloted is a course teaching how to be a self driving car engineer.
BENOIT TESSIER/Reuters

One of the micro credentials being piloted is a course teaching how to be a self driving car engineer.

If you're looking at a career change and fancy yourself as a bit of a mechanic - a self driving car engineer nano-degree might be for you. 

The so-called nano-degree is being offered under a pilot of micro-credentials by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. 

Recently Paul Goldsmith, Minister for Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, announced micro-credentials would be introduced into the tertiary sector to allow people to upskill or retrain with more ease, adding flexibility to the current system.  

Paul Goldsmith, New Zealand's Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, says
GAURAV GUPTA

Paul Goldsmith, New Zealand's Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, says

Micro-credentials are smaller units of learning that can be delivered online, at work, or at training institutions. If they are introduced, they could make it easier for people to retrain, without committing to longer, formal qualifications.

The pilot offers three sources of micro-credentials, one being a nine-month programme teaching students to be driverless car engineers through American-based company Udacity.

Another will come through The Otago Polytechnic and its EduBits, which allows people to learn new skills while working. 

The third is the Young Enterprise Scheme (Yes), offered through Young Enterprise, an organisation that helps students set up and run businesses while at high school. The Yes certificate gives students 24 credits at Level 3 that can go towards NCEA qualifications.  

NZQA deputy chief executive, quality assurance division, Dr Grant Klinkum said creating micro-credentials would allow NZQA to give certain courses a place on the qualification framework. 

Using the Udacity nano-degree as an example, Klinkum says that "component of learning" is equivalent to a level 9, or Masters, and is worth 60 points. 

While it would be impossible to have a Masters with less than 180 credits, the micro-credential was a smaller amount of learning that was given a credit value and a level employers could recognise.

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Another example Klinkum gave was truss building - building framing for houses. 

"One of the industry training organisations was arguing that truss builders need a particular set of skills to build trusses well, but don't necessarily need a full apprenticeship in carpentry. 

"Someone might go on to a particular form of employment that doesn't require a full qualification, or might have already had a full qualification and need some other piece of training."

The decision to introduce micro-credentials in New Zealand has not yet been made, but the pilot would allow NZQA to ask the question of what options could add to the country's training and education system. 

"We see the nature of work is changing, there's more and more international online content available we need to help interpret for the New Zealand environment, because employers are telling us they don't need a full and formal qualification all the time, they need small amounts of learning." 

Young Enterprise Scheme national head Colin Kennedy said his organisation was still working with NZQA to work out how their pilot would work, but said it offered a chance for students to be recognised for their experiential learning. 

The scheme is already running in high schools for year 12 and 13 students, who through the programme set up their own business and learn how to run it. 

He said it meant students who were "non-academic" but excelled in a business environment could show that through a Level 3 NCEA qualification. 

Goldsmith said the micro-credential pilots were an exciting new opportunity for the tertiary sector.

"They are the first step in the Government's response to the Productivity Commission, and part of our desire to see more education innovation that benefits learners.

"We want to ensure we are providing a generation of entrepreneurs and skilled workers that are able to adapt to meet the demands of innovative growth in a rapidly changing world."

 - Stuff

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