The European Commission has a major role to play in providing common standards of micro-credentials to advance equal opportunities in employment and education, especially among vulnerable groups. Facing lower access to employment, vulnerable groups such as migrants and refugees, Roma mobile workers, homeless persons, people with disabilities, or LGBTQI+ are exposed to long-term unemployment leading to poverty and exclusion which in turn lead to poor physical and mental health. Micro-credentials provide an opportunity to invest in creating mechanisms to monitor the access to lifelong learning opportunities for such groups.
As a response to the public consultation, EPHA calls for the standardisation of micro-credentials designed as a concrete tool for tackling the growing social inequalities and their disproportionate effects on the most vulnerable. They must offer the possibility to recognise and enhance existing skills, especially for people who have not had the opportunity to secure an education and obtain professional qualifications. Such measures will facilitate the employability of people facing social inequalities and will contribute to improving their access to professional training and qualifications needed for accessing employment.
This is particularly relevant for reducing inequalities in healthcare by addressing the health workforce deficit, which on many occasions becomes a barrier preventing people in rural and isolated areas to access quality and timely healthcare and preventive services. The European Commission must establish a system of micro-credentials that provides an effective response to the health workforce deficit in order to ensure the availability of healthcare services of good quality for all.
The recognition and portability of micro-credentials should not only support the employability and mobility of health workers and health mediators within and between countries, but it should also be designed as a measure for providing a response to the growing inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19. This should be in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as the European Pillar for Social Rights, and should be integrated into European and national policies.