We often talk about how education – particularly short, targeted skill-building courses – will help plug major skills gaps in the Australian workforce. As a large employer in Australia we’re playing our part in giving our employees – and the broader population – access to new micro-credentials to help build their technology skills. Most recently we’ve done this in partnership with the UNSW Canberra Cyber centre of excellence.

What are micro-credentials?

Micro-credentials give you a globally recognised qualification in just 6-8 weeks. They’re an innovative alternative to longer, traditional degree programs and we’ve been advocating for an increased focus and investment in these credentials by government, industry and education providers.

Exponential changes in technology and the impact of COVID are driving radical transformation in the skills needed by Australia’s workforce. This means we can no longer have a ‘set-and-forget’ mindset to learning and education. We all need to take advantage of every opportunity to upskill or reskill to continue to be effective in this rapidly changing environment.

We estimate that people will need to rebuild their skillsets up to 15 times throughout their career to keep pace with this level of change. This new reality calls for ‘agile learning’ – a just-in-time approach to skills development to get people ready to take on their next challenge. Micro-credentials are an absolute game changer for this type of rapid learning.

So far, more than 800 members of our team have completed a micro-credential, to build their skills in this new and agile way in areas like software defined networking, product management and data & analytics. We co-develop these micro credentials with our university partners like UTS and RMIT Online, usually within 12 weeks – this incredible pace means we can respond quickly to our evolving learning needs. And the fact they’re completed online gives accessibility to all, irrespective of where you’re located, and also means they’re available to the public through the universities. We’re really proud Telstra can play a broader role in helping to build critical technology skills for our broader industry and community.

Our most recent micro-credentials are in the area of cyber security and were co-developed with our partners at UNSW Canberra Cyber. These two credentials – Security Fundamentals and Secure Code – will help build more of the capability we need to combat the increasing risk of cybercrime that the digital economy brings.

We’re also working on how we can influence the vocational education and training (VET) sector to build a framework that would allow students to ‘stack’ micro-credentials to build a modern qualification. This would increase the affordability and accessibility of industry relevant qualifications for more people.

Hands on with micro-credentials

Stephanie Virgato works with us as a Network Engineer, and was one of the first to do the machine learning course we co-developed with UTS.

She tells us that being supported in her job to attend classes during work hours was a “huge bonus”.

“The pacing of the course worked well, with a good balance of online interactive sessions and course material. And while the final assessment required some extra weekend work, overall I was able to manage the course quite easily alongside work,” she says.

“Our instructor helped build engagement and collaboration and encouraged us to put our new skills into practice to drive outcomes.

“By the end of the course I was familiar with key machine learning algorithms and I’ve used this knowledge to help build a new method to manage data in our cloud performance management system. We’re already seeing positive results and will be using this new process to make the system more robust.

“The next step will be to expand the use of machine learning in other areas, including predicting when faults might happen so they can be prevented,” Stephanie adds.

It’s important we continue to support our people who, like Stephanie, want to build their knowledge over time. By supporting a multi-faceted approach to upskilling, we’ll be well equipped to tackle the ever-evolving needs driven by emerging technology and the digital economy.