Image: Everyday Solar
Image: Everyday Solar

About two years ago, IREC began exploring micro-credentials as a means to supplement and, in some cases, provide an alternative to full-scope clean energy certification schemes. Through intensive discussion and research with stakeholders and credentialing partners since then, IREC has helped spur development of a blueprint for micro-credentialing that enables workers in clean energy and allied fields to validate competency in a specialty area.

A new partnership with the National Apartment Association and its Education Institute (NAAEI) will further advance IREC’s cutting edge experience with micro-credentials in the national, cross-industry workforce development arena.

A grant recently awarded to IREC by the National Network (National Network of Business and Industry Associations) launches the creation of a new micro-credential by IREC and NAAEI specifically for apartment maintenance personnel. The credential, CAMT + E, will focus on the skills needed for planning, procuring and managing energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits in apartment buildings.

The micro-credential framework being implemented is supported by a valid assessment of carefully defined function skills, which are circumscribed by a subset of job tasks, not a full job.

One of the intentions of micro-credentials is to add training and validation of new or expanded competencies to existing credentials, to keep up with new technology and changing skill sets needed by workers in many of today’s industries. This new micro-credential will promote continued professional development for maintenance personnel after they have earned their Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT). It will be the first in a series of stackable micro-credentials, which together will lead to a new Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Supervisors.

“Clean energy workers experiencing frequent job requirement changes and those based in “allied industries” with an ancillary or emerging clean energy component, may end up performing critical job tasks requiring competencies for which they have not yet been assessed,” explains IREC credentialing services manager Anna Sullivan, who manages the project. “For these and other allied industry professionals, micro-credentials can be a solution to fill critical gaps between workers’ skills, current credentials and available and future job opportunities.”

The new CAMT + E micro-credential proposes to do exactly this. It will allow seasoned apartment maintenance technicians to validate competency in emerging skill areas of staff supervision, project management, and building energy performance.

“We expect that micro-credentials like the CAMT+E will create just-in-time credentialing for specialty skills that can be layered on top of existing certifications when market changes and technology updates outpace quality assurance infrastructures,” adds Laure-Jeanne Davignon, IREC director of workforce and credentialing. “Concurrently, clean energy training providers, who are seeing a rise in enrollment from students with diverse professional and educational backgrounds, will better be able to provide more discrete, stackable, job-ready training and skills validation than that offered by full-scope schemes alone,” she says.

The project is funded through NNBIA by the Act, Lumina and Joyce foundations.