Karen Dzialdowski has had a varied career. From clinical scientist to pilates instructor to administration and marketing professional and mother of three, she already has a wide skill set.
But as her second child nears school age, she’s ready to begin learning more, and is going to use microcredentials to do it.
Wait, what's a microcredential?
Microcredentials are mini-qualifications that can be completed through universities like Griffith University, RMIT or other professional training organisations like TAFE. They generally range in price from $500 - $2,000, although it will depend on the length and subject matter of the course. Most take place over a series of weeks.
According to a study by the University of Melbourne, most (67 per cent) of microcredential students will take on a course to advance their knowledge or skills, while others do it to refresh their current skills, boost their career progression and future-proof their jobs.
The core idea of completing a microcredential is that the students significantly develop a certain skillset, and have a certificate to prove it, without needing to do a lengthy university degree.
Reconnecting with 'that other part of me'
“As the [children] are getting older now, I definitely have missed that other part of me that I could be good at… another little part of me that’s not always ‘Mum’,” Dzialdowski said.
“[Completing microcredentials] also about being able to show my kids that I’m good at something else as well.”
The 36-year-old mother is part of the micro-certification workplace trend that women are leaning into, according to new research from the University of Melbourne.
Of those aged 24-45 open to upskilling, nearly half said they would look outside their workplace to gain extra skills and around three quarters said they would pay.
Additionally, two thirds said upskilling would be key to keeping up with the changing workplace.
And this trend is even sharper among female workers. Women (89 per cent) are more likely to believe that upskilling will help them explore their potential and boost their confidence.
For Dzialdowski, the flexibility of smaller courses is the main appeal. She can dip her toe into areas she wants to know more about, without needing to commit too much time or money into it.
“Particularly if you’re wanting to try something new, it’s a nice way in, instead of committing to something so full on [like a part-time university degree],” she said.
“I can’t fathom that amount of time, at this point. I commend them, but for me it’s about being able to say, ‘Okay, this is something I’m interested in and that I can learn more about.’ It’s a great way to just scratch that itch.”
When her second child starts school, she’s going to begin delving deeper into her communications and marketing, copywriting, social media and workplace wellbeing skill sets by picking up a microcredential.
The smaller nature of the study plan also means she will be able to fit it around her work. She currently does around two to three days at work a week at construction company Fore Group, where she works in administration and marketing.
Even so, she’s sceptical about whether she would have been able to do any extra learning with a newborn.
Finding the balance of time and energy
It all comes down to using her time and energy in the best way possible, Dzialdowski believes.
As a new mother, the way you value your time changes and finding a job that best aligns with the energy and time you’re willing to expend is the most important thing.
Her current job already ticks this box, so the microcredentials are an exercise in seeing what else could spark her interest in her current role.
“This sector is new for me… that’s where I look for new things to try and help me feel more confident in the business,” she said.
“I’m very green in this area, [so I think] let’s take a look at how I can get better.”
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