5 Ways Micro-Credentials Will Affect AEC, Labor Shortage

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Technologies are being implemented today that make the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry more interesting than ever. It’s an invigorating time to be involved in AEC, and the growth potential is massive. Some of the trends are:

  • More software-as-a-service (SAAS) applications, which are relatively easy to roll out in a company.
  • Artificial intelligence being implemented more often into design and project workflows to optimize them.
  • The marriage of construction with technologies from other industries, helping minimize the skilled labor gap.
  • Robotics automating or optimizing mundane, repetitive tasks, augmenting the labor force and freeing up humans to be more innovative.
  • Micro-credentials that enable people entering the job market to become productive quickly.
computer monitor showing model of a machined part

The AEC industry can benefit from these trends thanks to a new direction in post-secondary education: micro-credentials. Rather than looking to earn long-term college degrees, people entering the job market can specialize in a certain skill and achieve a job-ready micro-degree or micro-credential.


For insights into implementing technology, download the free Applied Software eBook: Building Blocks for Successful Tech Adoption.


Micro-credentials certify a person’s specific skill(s) resulting from competency-based professional learning. The concept originated in the mid-1980s with computer programming and networking. One of today’s players, Digital Promise, cooperates with 35 organizations that offer micro-credentials, with the names of Dell, Gates and Zuckerberg showing up in the list of funders.

worker green safety vest standing on steel platform looking at crane erecting steel city

Following are five ways micro-credentials can result in a wave of people boosting the growth of tech in the AEC industry, while addressing the labor shortage at the same time:

  1. When people have expertise in a particular skill, they can more easily be integrated into a company without a complicated onboarding process.
  2. People with a micro-credential can work in a chosen field, and if they discover they have an interest in something else, they can add a credential in another specialty, building their company’s tech capabilities.
  3. In substituting for a four-year college degree, micro-credentials – many of which can be achieved in about a year – are more job-focused.
  4. An employee who is encouraged to continually learn and improve is more likely to stay where they’re at, while building skills in other technologies they are passionate about. People who want to continue to learn new technologies are valuable employees to have, especially in these unprecedented times of tech growth and labor shortages.
  5. Construction jobs have always been known for the manual labor required. However, when we consider what the job of a construction worker might look like five or ten years from now, we could be seeing micro-credentialed workers operating robotic machines that do the difficult, dirty, dangerous work.

With the current tech revolution in the AEC space, we’re seeing specialists emerge in virtual reality, 3D printing, fabrication processes, robotics, and process automation, among many others. Workers are already participating in many meetings online, and the natural progression will be to connect with project teams and owners about projects using virtual reality. Companies that embrace micro-credentials will attract today’s tech-savvy job seekers, expand their technical capabilities, retain staff, and be more competitive.


What does innovation mean to you? Download the free Bridging the Gap eBook ,“A Guide to Constructive Innovation,” and gain insights from construction industry leaders.

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