Red River College has learned a thing or two from its successful micro course for health-care workers on COVID-19 tasks.
After discovering there was a high demand for micro-credential courses, the college has partnered with food delivery giant SkipTheDishes, which started in Winnipeg, to provide customized courses to train its employees.
The series of micro-credentials will provide a standardized training structure for SkipTheDishes employees, who are hired to train customer service workers and other employees in the food-delivery network.
"(SkipTheDishes) was expanding globally, and their parent, Just Eat, was looking to Skip to help train other individuals globally," said Bill Rutherford, the college’s business development manager.
"So they were looking at their training owners and saying, ‘We need to level off the training and the competency among this group.’"
SkipTheDishes, which employs nearly 3,000 people in Winnipeg, was bought by U.K.-based Just Eat for $110 million in 2016. It merged with Dutch company Takeaway.com in February 2020, which went on to purchase U.S. company Grubhub in a US$7.3-billion deal. The company’s profits exploded in 2020. In October, parent company Just Eat Takeaway recorded a 72 per cent increase in orders in Canada in 2020 compared with 2019, and a 37 per cent increase in orders globally.
Many restaurant owners have criticized the company for high commission fees that take a bite out of sales, which have been ravaged by the pandemic.
"This new micro-credentials course, designed with Red River College, will help offer a made-in-Manitoba solution to ‘train the trainers’ with the accredited skills they need for the success of their operations teams," SkipTheDishes wrote in an email Tuesday.
Rutherford added: "It’s a really neat story in the sense that we’ve taken this group of individuals who learned from the ground up, progressed in an organization that’s got a global reach now, and they’ve got something tangible that recognizes this very special competency."
Each student who finishes the course will be given an online badge that contains unique metadata, which can be included in a resume.
"Those who came up in the organization might not necessarily have formal degrees in any specific area, like a business degree or something like that, but they will be training other people, potentially in other countries that do have those degrees. We wanted to give them some kind of tangible recognition for the skills and competencies they have," Rutherford said.
The badge certification is an addition to the college’s micro-credential courses. Rutherford said he believes the system has "good potential" to entice other partners from private industry.
Those who complete the course will be able to use it as a credit for the college’s adult education program, which was being redeveloped as the micro-credential course program was being created. Rutherford called that a "happy coincidence."
"We have a recognition of prior learning policy at the college. So, we could take a look at the work that they’ve been engaged in at Skip and other institutions and we could give them credit in other areas, perhaps, toward that certificate as well," he said.
The college provides micro-credential courses in fields of study from accounting to podcasting, and more recently provided free courses to health-care workers to quickly train them in laboratory and support worker skills, and to carry out COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
The practice of providing rapid qualification in niche areas of study is relatively new at Red River. Rutherford said the college has been working with the Learning Resources Network, an international panel of post-secondary institutions, to develop a framework for micro-credential courses so they are recognized nationally, for the last two years.
"It is very new, and it really comes from industry in the sense that industry is changing must faster than a lot of post-secondary institutions could keep up with," he said.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.