Posted on May 8, 2024

A match made in innovation

Man with beard sitting at desk with laptop and pen


Since 2020, the B.C. Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills has funded the development of approx. 180 micro-credentials at public post-secondary institutions across the province.  

“Micro-credentials are an excellent opportunity for people to take short, focused programs that really level up their area of expertise in a specific industry,” says Adrian Lipsett, VCC’s Dean of Continuing Studies whose team has implemented several micro-credentials at the college. 

With a mature student population—the average age of a Ƶstudent is 32 years old—many turn to the college to pivot careers or upskill in their current profession. Micro-credentials are an ideal choice for a diverse range of learners as they are often offered at a shorter length, lower cost, and with flexible delivery options.  

“As an access institution, Ƶis committed to reducing barriers to education so that everyone feels truly welcome and benefits from real hands-on education that makes a real difference in their lives and in their communities,” adds Lipsett. “Micro-credentials are symbolic of how our college actively works to serve our community of diverse learners.” 

The college currently offers 10 micro-credentials with more added every semester in topics ranging from creative technology to business management to fashion.  

Key to successful micro-credential delivery is collaborating with industry to ensure students come out with job-ready skills. 

Collaborating to meet industry demands

An example of a successful partnership is the college’s collaboration with — a non-profit industry association that promotes and grows B.C.'s creative technology industry, which is comprised of video games, visual effects, animation, and virtual/augmented/mixed reality. 

DigiBC reached out to Ƶto develop a micro-credential that would benefit their members. With funding provided by the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, the Award of Achievement in Production for Animation & VFX was created—the first of many collaborations with DigiBC. 

“We used this micro-credential to create new connections with industry, explore new ways to be meaningful partners, and meet niche training needs,” remarks Lipsett. “That first micro-credential we developed with DigiBC has helped us start conversations on a broad range of projects we are now pursuing because we have the confidence that comes from having connected closely with industry to identify and rapidly develop the training they want.” 
“We need new avenues for people to gain the skills they need to enter the creative tech workforce—whether quickly reskilling from another industry, augmenting existing credentials from another region or country, or seeking new ways to gain specific, stackable skills on a flexible timeline,” adds Loc Dao, Executive Director of DigiBC. 

“From the early conversations with Adrian and his team, it was clear that Ƶwanted to develop a novel micro-credential program. Together, we were able to quickly identify Production for Animation and VFX as a candidate program, providing a viable pathway for people to enter creative tech from other industries or make a career change within the sector.” 

Once Ƶand DigiBC identified the topic, both teams set out with an ambitious timeline to roll out the micro-credential in four months. DigiBC put Ƶin touch with subject matter experts from local studios who helped refine course curriculum to ensure students would learn relevant skills and identified instructors who were experts in their industry. Ƶalso leveraged DigiBC’s member base when it came to student recruitment, having far greater reach than it had through its own traditional channels.  

Adds Dao: “From the start, Ƶcame in with a genuine curiosity about the creative technology industry. They were cognizant of what they didn’t know about our industry. Conversely, we were transparent about our understanding of the complexities of post-secondary institutions and the processes and challenges to creating and launching a novel micro-credential. This open-mindedness and clear communication from both sides, and a willingness to be honest about what we know and what we don’t know, has defined, and strengthened our partnership throughout the process.” 

Vitória Cruz M Fatheazam was searching for a program that would allow her to step into production for visual effects when she found VCC’s micro-credential. 

“I appreciated how the course content creates an environment that is useful for both experienced professionals and newcomers to the industry, like me,” says Fatheazam.

Finding new opportunities

The successful partnership led to other collaborative opportunities between the two organizations. The following year, Ƶand DigiBC applied and received funding from the Ministry for another micro-credential—the Award of Achievement in Project Management for Video Games.

The program was another hit. In addition, it qualified for the province’s future skills grant that was rolled out in 2023 a part of the StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan. 

“We added an extra cohort as a result of the popularity of the program,” enthuses Lipsett.

For both programs, the added benefit is the convenience of flexible learning where students can participate in class and online. 

“It really caught my eye how the classes were distributed in a way that wouldn't clash with my work schedule at that time, and the flexibility of attending classes online without compromising interaction with colleagues and instructors,” says Fatheazam.

A model for collaboration

The partnership has become such a model for success that Ƶis currently developing a pilot collaboration framework that aims to be shared with other public post-secondary institutions across the province. The framework includes a curriculum repository and a shared licensing agreement that will streamline administration between post-secondary institutions, allowing them to easily access and deliver content in different areas throughout the province.

The desired outcome for the framework is that it will allow other post-secondary institutions to tap into what made the VCC-DigiBC partnership work so well; mutual vision and goals, open dialogue, sharing of resources, and leaning on the strengths of each organization. For post-secondary institutions, it also provides a formula for financial sustainability by having a nominal fee to offset the costs of administration and, where applicable, upkeep of shared content.

More broadly, the framework is providing a valuable model to support the Ministry's goals of enabling sustainable collaboration across the system through the Shared Educational Resources and Technology initiative within B.C.’s .

After Fatheazam completed her micro-credential, she found work as a production assistant at an established motion picture visual effects company with locations around the world. 

“Being around classmates and instructors with diverse backgrounds and levels of experience was great,” shares Fatheazam. “We had multiple discussions that helped me gain a better understanding of the contrast between working in production for VFX versus production in animation.” 

Adds Lipsett, “Our work with micro-credentials is exciting because it’s another way we are showing the community that we are paying attention to what their needs are and that we are responding in a timely and effective manner.” 
“That is the value that we should be bringing as a college. And that, to me, is one of the biggest take-aways from engaging in this partnership.” 

Looking for short, focused programs that offer specific skills? Explore VCC's