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Consultancy for Use Cases of Micro-credentials

OVERVIEW

Parent Sector : Field Office

Duty Station: Bangkok

Job Family: Education

Type of contract : Non Staff

Duration of contract : From 1 to 6 months

Recruitment open to : External candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Bangkok Time) : 15-Jul-2022

 

UNESCO Core Values: Commitment to the Organization, Integrity, Respect for Diversity, Professionalism

 

Request for Use Cases of Micro-credentials:
Building Consensus for Fair Recognition in Asia and the Pacific

With support from the Japanese Funds-In-Trust (JFIT)

I.Background

 

Given the far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recognition of diverse modes of learning and qualifications emerged as a critically important concern for higher education systems worldwide. This includes fair recognition of qualifications earned through online and blended learning and micro-credentials (i.e. short-format qualifications with a narrow scope), which are a priority for the region.[1] To raise awareness in Asia-Pacific, UNESCO Bangkok is working with countries to ratify and implement the Tokyo Convention and Global Convention based on fair and transparent recognition of qualifications, including those earned through prior learning and micro-credentials. Additional research is needed to ensure a common understanding of micro-credentials and their value for learners and employers in Asia-Pacific.

Online learning shed light on the potential of micro-credentials as a valid method for recording the outcomes of online learning and promoting flexible learning strategies. However, there is limited experience with the provision of micro-credentials, and thus an international consensus on the concept of micro-credentials is elusive. Drawing on global consultations, UNESCO proposed the following definition of micro-credentials:

  1. A record of focused learning achievement verifying what the learner knows, understands or can do;
  2. includes assessment based on clearly defined standards and is awarded by a trusted provider;
  3. has standalone value and may also contribute to or complement other micro-credentials or macro-credentials, including through recognition of prior learning; and
  4. meets the standards required by relevant quality assurance.

Source: Towards a common definition of micro-credentials, UNESCO, 2022

To date, few quality assurance agencies in Asia-Pacific have developed standards for the recognition of micro-credentials. To determine the validity of UNESCO’s definition and alignment in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO Bangkok and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan will convene a joint workshop in Osaka, Japan on 24 August 2022. As part of this event, UNESCO is collecting a range of use cases on micro-credentials with a focus on their current status and recognition in Asia and the Pacific.

II. Research framework

 

Building on the working definition proposed by UNESCO and important contributions from OECD, UNESCO-IIEP and others, a working group will review the definitions, relevance and recognition of micro-credentials. The aim of the case studies is to review and build regional consensus in line with the UNESCO recognition conventions and to prepare a policy brief to help transform higher education systems in response to COVID-19. Researchers will be invited to submit a proposal to conduct stakeholder consultations, desk research, policy analysis and focus group discussions to engage diverse target audiences, including youth, employers, quality assurance authorities, education and training providers and their respective national information centres (NIC). The guiding questions include:

  1. Based on UNESCO’s working definition, how would you describe micro-credentials in your country context? Include specific examples from policy and current uses to illustrate.
  2. How are micro-credentials or their equivalent described nationally in the qualifications framework? Provide an overview of the current status of your national qualifications framework, including how/if it facilitates formal recognition of micro-credentials based on the achievement of specific knowledge, skills, and related professional values.
  3. From diverse stakeholder perspectives, what are the primary challenges for developing relevant, useful and quality-assured micro-credentials in your country? Describe use cases, if any.
  4. How can the development of micro-credentials in your country context support the transformation of learning and skills for life, work, and sustainable development? List actionable recommendations to promote fair and transparent recognition among key stakeholder groups such as youth, employers, quality assurance authorities, education and training providers and NICs in Asia-Pacific.

The following section outlines the expected methodology.

III. Methodology

 

As described, micro-credentials are typically focused on a specific set of learning outcomes in a narrow field of learning and achieved over a shorter period of time. Micro-credentials are offered by commercial entities, private providers and professional bodies, traditional education and training providers, community organizations and other types of organizations. Therefore, diverse stakeholder perspectives are essential to ensure a locally contextualized understanding of recognition and the potential value of micro-credentials. This is key to critically assess gaps and ensure equitable access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Building on Sustainable Development Goal 4 (see SDG Targets 4.3 and 4.4) and the new Higher Education Roadmap[2], researchers will be expected to conduct a thorough desk review of academic and grey literature, expert interviews and at least two (2) focus group discussions with diverse stakeholders to develop a national use case on micro-credentials. Researchers may adapt their methodology to meet the needs of their local context with the aim to contribute to a wider policy dialogue on fair recognition of micro-credentials in Asia-Pacific. The results of these national use cases will be used as inputs for a forthcoming policy brief by UNESCO. Use cases may also be shared as open knowledge products for consideration by the Tokyo Convention Committee and Asia-Pacific Network of National Information Centers (APNNIC), which will be convened in October 2022.

The next section provides additional details about the assignment, including the need to apply gender analysis and mainstreaming concepts across all activities whenever feasible.

IV. Assignment

 

The international expert will perform the tasks under the overall authority of the Director of the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and the direct supervision of the Chief of Section for Educational Innovation and Skills Development (EISD). Specifically, the international expert shall perform the following assignments:

  1. Based on the research framework, conduct a thorough desk review of academic and grey literature, expert interviews and at least two (2) focus group discussions with diverse stakeholders to develop a national use case on micro-credentials;
  2. Produce a 10-15 page report and summary presentation (PPT) on micro-credentials recognition with the following headings: I) Background and policy context; II) Methods and results of stakeholder consultations; III) Key challenges and opportunities for quality micro-credentials; and IV) Actionable recommendations;
  3. Peer review an 8-10 page draft policy brief and provide substantive inputs to build regional consensus in line with the UNESCO recognition conventions. The peer review should determine if the draft policy brief is original as to thought, is methodologically sound and if it clearly adds to the knowledge and development of the field.

In line with UNESCO's overall gender mainstreaming strategy, researchers are expected to integrate a gender perspective in all activities and apply gender analysis and mainstreaming concepts whenever feasible.

V. Deliverables and schedule

 

Based on an open call for proposals, UNESCO Bangkok will select approximately eight (8) use cases from countries in Asia-Pacific, depending on the quality of submissions and availability of funds. Applicants from least developed countries are particularly encouraged to apply.

The timeline is key to ensure preparations for the upcoming joint workshop in Osaka, Japan, which may include virtual or in-person participation. Given limited funds and COVID-19 related restrictions, researchers should budget for virtual participation in all international events. Following the research framework (see section II above), the detailed work assignments will be discussed following selection. Activities and key deliverables are outlined in the table below.

Activity / Deliverable Timeline
Power point and draft report on micro-credentials recognition  31 August 2022
Final report, revised PPT presentation and peer review  30 September 2022

 

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[1] See The Tokyo Convention: Transforming higher education through fair recognition of online and blended learning (UNESCO, 21 Oct 2021).

[2] See UNESCO, 2022, Beyond Limits. New Ways to Reinvent Higher Education. Working document for the World Higher Education Conference (WHEC). 18-20 May 2022.

 

VI. Research team and resources

 

Required qualifications of the external consultant(s) 

The external expert(s) should possess the following mandatory qualifications and experience:

  • University degree at master’s level or equivalent in Education, Social Sciences, Political Sciences, or a related field;
  • At least five years of experience in conducting relevant research projects and/or programme planning and management in higher education and training;
  • At least three years of work experience acquired at the international level or in an international setting;
  • Understanding and knowledge of UNESCO’s mandate and its programming in relation to higher education;
  • Experience in gender analysis and gender in education along with an understanding and application of UN mandates in Human Rights and Gender Equality;

Competencies

  • Analytical skills to collect and review higher education and adult learning policy documents, reports and diverse stakeholder perspectives in Asia and the Pacific;
  • Advanced research skills to plan, conduct, analyze and present findings from focus group discussions and stakeholder consultations;
  • Understands complex information and quickly identifies key issues;
  • Forms sound, evidence-based judgments and assesses risks to project delivery;
  • Understands the complexity of the environment in Asia-Pacific and promotes mutually beneficial relationships at multiple levels of research project management.
  • Excellent report writing and oral presentation skills in English;

Desired Qualifications

  • Work experience in the UN or experience with assignments for the UN in Asia-Pacific;
  • Experience with researching micro-credentials, and/or flexible learning in Asia-Pacific;
  • Demonstrated expertise in collaborating with the UN or other government bodies on related research and regional consultations;
  • A Ph.D. in a relevant area of research would be an asset.

Verification of these qualifications will be based on the provided curriculum vitae as well as a web link to or electronic copy of one recently completed research report with relevance to the assignment. 

Competencies (Core / Managerial)

Accountability (C)
Communication (C)
Innovation (C)
Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C)
Planning and organizing (C)
Results focus (C)
Teamwork (C)
Professionalism (C)

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For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework.

Application Process

 

Interested candidates should click on “Apply Now” and download and complete the Employment History form (Word document) in "Employment History Form / My Documents". Before uploading the document, at the end of the word document, please insert the extra pages with the following required information:

  • An up-to-date CV stating details of educational qualifications, work experience, including prior experience of similar work with links to past examples of relevant consultations and work on micro-credentials;
  • A brief technical proposal of 1-2 pages discussing the approach/methodology to undertake the assignment
  • A financial proposal

 

The complete application shall be submitted on or before 15th July 2022; midnight, Bangkok time.

 

Note:  
-    Due to the large number of applications we receive, we are able to inform only the successful candidate(s) about the outcome or status of the selection process.
-    Please submit your application through Success Factor. Only if you are unable to attach requirements in system, please inform us at eisd.bgk@unesco.org 
-    For any requests for clarification, please contact Mr. Wesley Teter (wr.teter@unesco.org).  

Selection and Recruitment Process

 

Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. Only applications providing the information requested in the application procedure will be considered. To apply, please visit the UNESCO careers website. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview. 

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.

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