One of the first micro-qualifications developed by the Pacific Community (SPC) has been successfully delivered by The University of the South Pacific (USP). The university graduated its first cohort of students with the micro-qualification in the operation of a small seafood business last month. The micro-qualification, which teaches all the aspects of how to successfully operate a small seafood business, was one of three micro-qualifications developed in the pioneering work by SPC's Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP).
EQAP's qualifications team leader, Rajendra Prasad, said the graduation marked a milestone for EQAP as it was the first EQAP-designed micro-qualification to be successfully delivered by an independent training provider. “It is really satisfying to note that the micro-qualifications on which we spent a considerable amount of time and money are now being put to good use,” says Prasad. “In this sphere of work, no matter how good the qualifications and micro-qualifications are, the process is never complete unless a training provider picks up the programme, delivers it to learners and graduates them with recognised awards.”
The training was largely supported by the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) programme, an instrumental partner in the course design of the two micro-qualifications on seafood operations. The second seafood-related micro-qualification is on the proper handling of seafood to preserve its quality. These are the first accredited courses in the fisheries industry and are aimed at empowering communities who work with seafood to better manage their business and be successful.
USP’s training facilitator, Shaukat Ali, spoke highly of the micro-qualification's course design. “The course design was very, very well thought-out and it covered all aspects of running a small seafood business; from supply chain, to record keeping to good leadership and deployment,” says Ali. "The comprehensive content was sequenced properly and encouraged a good flow of learning.”
The third micro-qualification course developed was on the development of assessment instruments. EQAP has already offered this micro-qualification course three times since it was accredited in 2018; twice in Fiji and once in Tonga. More than 150 students have graduated with this micro-qualification.
Micro-qualifications, which essentially are short courses that have been properly accredited to ensure a high degree of quality, have become an increasingly popular learning pathway in the world. Prasad says similar interest has been registered from all SPC member countries. He says there is also overwhelming interest from organisations and companies to have their trainings reviewed, revised and packaged as a micro-qualification. “Our success on the development and accreditation of the micro-qualifications as part of the Innovation Fund, coupled with the publicity that we did on it, has seen many other organisations approaching us for support on this work,” adds Prasad. The organisations that have shown interest include the ANZ Bank (Pacific), the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Pacific Power Association, the Sustainable Energy Industry Association of the Pacific Islands, Pacific Regional Federation for Resilience Professionals, and the Fiji National University.
To date, EQAP has accredited 19 micro-qualifications, and is processing at least eight applications for accreditation. “Most of the micro-qualifications that have been developed and accredited so far are regional qualifications, which will be delivered in a number of countries in the Pacific region,” says Prasad. The programme undertook the pioneering micro-qualification work with the support of SPC’s internal Innovation Fund.