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Micro-credentials Virtual Skills Passport Pilot Project for Ontario Post-Secondary Institutions

10 May, 2022

Project FAQs

Who can apply?

All Ontario publicly-assisted colleges, universities, and Indigenous Institutes are eligible to apply to the Expression of Interest process to participate in the Pilot Project, including those that are new to MyCreds™ and those looking to expand to micro-credentials.

How can our institution apply?

To apply for the Pilot Project and funding, complete the Expression of Interest (EOI) online form by Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 11:59pm ET.

When can our institution apply?

You can apply now! The Expression of Interest (EOI) online form will remain open until Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 11:59pm ET.

What does participation involve?

In addition to onboarding micro-credentials to MyCreds™, other core components of the Virtual Skills Passport Pilot Project include:

  1. Engaging the higher education community in consultations that will aid knowledge building and subsequent advancement of open standards for micro-credentials and interoperability. This will require participation in approximately one to two meetings, consultation sessions or community events per month over the course of the project by an appropriate designate at your institution that brings intermediate to advanced knowledge in data exchange standards, self-sovereign identity, blockchain, verifiable credentials, DIDs and related standards.
  2. Engaging learners in your Pilot Project to assess their satisfaction with a digital micro-credential through MyCreds™ and capture any design feedback they may have to enhance the process. Examples of methods used to gather this feedback might be a workshop, a short survey or poll.
  3. Demonstrating acceptance of micro-credentials by third party verifiers or employers that have been distributed through MyCreds™. To enable this process, institutions are asked to identify an industry partner to join their project. An example might be an industry partner you have collaborated with on the creation of the micro-credential that will use the credential to advance rapid access to the workforce. Another example might be your own college or university human resource department that uses the credential as part of their hiring process.

What will the funding support?

This funding will help cover costs directly related to the onboarding and/or expansion of micro-credentials to MyCreds™ as well as participation in community data open standards consultations. This generally includes a portion of the cost of onboarding, institutional personnel and administrative costs.

How much funding is available?

Institutions will be considered for funding levels starting at $25,000. Not all schools that apply will receive funding; therefore, ensure you provide a complete submission by the EOI application deadline.

When will our institution be notified whether we are receiving funding?

Directly following the close of the EOI submission process on June 8, 2022, the MyCreds™ team and the EOI review committee will review the submissions to determine eligibility and alignment with the pilot expectations. Institutions will be notified of their funding eligibility by the end of June.

When will the grant funding be released to us?

Grant funding is anticipated to be released by the end of June. Only those institutions that have been selected during the review process and that have signed the grant funding agreement and the ARUCC MyCreds™ Participant Agreement will receive grant funds and move to onboarding. Therefore, institutions are urged to finalize the agreements quickly.

Can our institution join MyCreds™ for micro-credentials if we do not receive grant funding?

Yes, you are welcome to join MyCreds™. If this hasn’t already occurred, you will first need to sign the MyCreds™ Participant Agreement before moving to onboarding.

We are a MyCreds™ institution already. Can we participate in the EOI process?

Yes, however, the focus for this pilot must be on micro-credentials to be considered eligible for this funding. Contact to determine what amendments, if any, may be needed to your institution’s MyCreds™ Participant Agreement.

Our institution is in the very early stages of figuring out its overall micro-credentials strategy. Can we still apply and participate in this EOI process?

Yes, we strongly encourage you to apply. Most Ontario institutions are actively delivering and/or developing micro-credentials, often through their continuing education or faculty areas. Although we would like you to onboard many micro-credentials, only one is required for the pilot. The final and firm deadline to onboard and launch a micro-credential as part of this pilot will be January 30, 2023. This should provide you ample time to actively participate in this pilot.

Which organizations is the MyCreds™ team working with on this Pilot Project?

The MyCreds™ team is working with the following organizations:

  • Duklas Cornerstone Consulting Inc. – providing overall program and project management support for MyCreds™.
  • Digitary – providing the IT infrastructure that powers MyCreds™ and technical onboarding support for post-secondary institutions.
  • MATTR – providing the decentralised identity and verifiable credential technical infrastructure being used to extend the MyCreds™ solution; supporting the technical standards consultation workstream.
  • ONCAT – providing the Expression of Interest grant funding portal.

What is Ontario's Micro-credential Strategy?

Ontario’s Micro-credential Strategy is helping learners access more opportunities to train or upskill for in-demand jobs. Micro-credentials provide learners with rapid training opportunities to acquire in-demand skills mostly in the private sector. In 2020, the Ontario government announced a $59.5 million investment over three years to support micro-credentials.

So far, the Ontario government has:

  • created an online portal to access micro-credential training opportunities
  • supported the creation of more than 65 new micro-credential projects in response to regional labour market needs through the Micro-credentials Challenge Fund
  • strengthened partnerships between postsecondary institutions, training providers and employers
  • promoted micro-credentials among learners and employers
  • supported students with financial need to pay for education geared to in-demand jobs, through OSAP

Future work on micro-credentials includes:

  • developing a virtual passport that tracks a person’s learning experience

Key Terms

What are Digital Credentials?

“Digital Credentials” are a type of digital representation of an earned academic achievement such as a degree, diploma, certificate, badge, or micro-credential issued by a post-secondary education provider.

What are Micro-credentials?

“Micro-credentials” are rapid training programs that help people retrain and upgrade their skills to find new employment and access additional educational opportunities. Offered by colleges, universities, and Indigenous Institutes, micro-credentials are short in duration, can often be completed online, and are often designed for the specific needs of employers and jobs. They can also be taken in isolation or packaged together alongside degrees, diplomas, and certificates.

What are Digital Micro-credentials?

“Digital Micro-credentials” are electronic certificates that prove the completion of a short-duration micro-credential offered by a post-secondary institution focused on providing granular, employment-related skill training.

What is Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI)?

“Self-Sovereign Identity” (SSI) is an approach to digital identification that puts control of digital credentials in the hands of individuals themselves. It establishes trust between a learner and who they are sharing their details with and guarantees the authenticity of the data and attestations, without the third party having to store any data. Key to this is the notion that a verifier’s trust in a credential issued is transferred to the credential holder.

What are Verifiable Credentials?

“Verifiable Credential” means a digital credential in which the data within can be verified (e.g., through cryptographic verification). It is any tamper-evident (cryptographically signed) set of information that an authority claims to be true about the subject of the credential – and which in turn enables the individual or organization to convince others of these truths.