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New Zealand's first micro-credential - a self-driving car engineering programme delivered online by Udacity, is now available, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

"It is fitting that the first micro-credential to be launched in New Zealand should be in the future focused area of autonomous cars; our tertiary system should be as innovative as the wider economy," Mr Goldsmith says.

Micro-credentials, also known as badges and Nanodegrees, allow for specific skills or components of learning to be recognised. Micro-credentials are not units of learning toward a full qualification, but are a recognition of specific skills, experience and knowledge.

Udacity's Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree is a micro-credential that has been assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) as equivalent to a 60 credit package of learning at Level 9 (Masters level) on the New Zealand Qualification's Framework (NZQF).

The Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree programme covers deep learning, computer vision, sensor fusion, controllers, and related automotive hardware skills and takes nine months of part time study.

“NZQA’s launch of the three micro credential pilots follows the launch of the Government’s work programme in response to the Productivity Commission report on tertiary education,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“These new pilots reflect this Government's commitment to driving forward the kind of innovation in the tertiary education system recommended by the Productivity Commission’s report.”

Examples of micro-credentials include short courses delivered online, in the workplace or at training institutions. Micro- credentials can be at any level of a qualifications framework and would typically be between 5 and 60 credits.

Alongside the Udacity Nanodegree programme pilot, NZQA is also working with Otago Polytechnic and the Young Enterprise Scheme:

Otago Polytechnic, which has significant experience in the assessment and recognition of prior learning, launched their micro-credential service, EduBits on 27 July. EduBits recognises sets of skills and knowledge to enable just-in-time workforce upskilling and reskilling and are being developed in conjunction with industry. Otago Polytechnic and NZQA will jointly award micro-credential EduBits as equivalent to 5 to 60 credits across the levels of the NZQF.

The final pilot enables high school students to be issued with a joint Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) and NZQA micro-credential.

YES is run by the Young Enterprise Trust in association with the Lion Foundation. It provides students with an opportunity to set up and run a real business, creating a product or service and bringing it to market. Approximately 3,700 students participate in the scheme annually. The YES certificate currently contributes 24 credits at Level 2 and 3 on the NZQF that can be used toward NCEA.

“New Zealand’s qualification system will need to adapt if we are to meet our evolving skills needs, and micro-credentials are one way we can begin to do that.

"Learners and employers will always value formal qualifications, but as workers need specific new skills across their lifetime, a micro-credential may be an excellent option for learners to upskill without completing a full formal qualification,” Mr Goldsmith says.

The three pilots will be evaluated by NZQA within six months with a view of considering how best to support the further development of a micro credentials system in New Zealand.

More information on the three pilots can be found HERE.

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