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Ninety-five percent of employers see benefits in their employees accruing microcredentials, according to a new survey from Collegis Education and UPCEA, the association for college and university leaders in online and professional continuing education.

Among the leaders surveyed from 500 organizations, 76 percent said pursuing microcredentials demonstrates an employee’s willingness to develop their skills, 63 percent said it shows initiative and 60 percent said it’s an easy way to communicate employee competencies and skills. Eighty percent of respondents said that stackable credentials leading to a degree enhanced their appeal.

At the same time, many organizational leaders expressed concern about the lack of standardization among microcredentials and the challenge of assessing their validity. While 20 percent of respondents reported little or no concern about alternative credentials having an adverse effect on the workforce, 17 percent said they were concerned about irrelevant credentials and a lack of critical training, and 12 percent expressed worry about the quality of the education provided.

When choosing a college or university to work with in developing a microcredential program, about two-thirds of organizational leaders said they looked for proof of effectiveness, and more than half said they wanted to play a role in developing that program. Yet only 44 percent said they’d been approached by an institution seeking to collaborate on such a program.

“The findings from the Collegis/UPCEA research show that organizational leaders value microcredentials and non-degree programming but are often unaware of them,” said Jim Fong, chief research officer of UPCEA. “Those that are aware agree that quality can be addressed with greater collaboration between employers and higher education.”