OECD Education Working Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected studies drawing on the work of the OECD Directorate for Education. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language (English or French) with a short summary available in the other.

English, French

The emergence of alternative credentials

The landscape of post-secondary education is changing with the emergence of new credentials that are engaging millions of learners. So-called “alternative credentials” – such as micro-credentials, digital badges and industry-recognised certificates – have expanded their scale considerably, as a consequence of a rising demand for upskilling and reskilling, as well as a sharp reduction in the unit cost of provision made possible by digitalisation. Higher education institutions, businesses and other institutions are actively offering alternative credentials that help learners acquire new skills, update their existing skills and signal the competencies they already have. Despite an increasing volume of these new credentials, great uncertainty persists. This working paper aims to assist policy makers across the OECD by defining terminologies, identifying the characteristics of these credentials, looking at providers and learners of these credentials, and examining how employers and governments perceive these credentials.


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