Signee Insight – Micro-credentials in Sign-making

Earlier this year, Signee raised the need for micro-credentials as the beginning of a career pathway into sign-making with the Workforce Development Council for the industry Hanga Aro Rau.

The only qualification for the sign-making industry is the NZ Certificate in Sign Making Level 4 with optional strands in traditional signwriting, three-dimensional sign fabrication, digital signage, and sign installation. The credit range of 225-265 equates to 2250 – 2650 hours of learning and takes approximately 3.5 to 4 years to complete during an apprenticeship.

Signee believes there needs to be further qualifications and bite-sized courses (micro-credentials) to keep employees engaged, providing upskilling not just during the time of an apprenticeship but as professional development for those employed in the field. Employment in the sign-making sector from 2017-2022 increased by 8.7% with forecasted changes set to increase by 6.9% between 2023-2028. It is imperative we ensure there are career development options to secure those numbers.


Micro-credentials are small, stand-alone awards with 1 to 40 credits that recognise skills, experience, or knowledge. They create opportunities for clearer pathways into sign-making with skills and knowledge streamlined into accessible modules.  They are aimed at people who are seeking to upskill, get credit for skills already in hand or for those who may not have had an opportunity to undergo formal training.  They can be stackable, which means they can form part of programmes that lead to qualifications. The number of credits is equal to the time required to complete the course as one credit is equal to 10 hours of learning. Therefore, if the course was 4 credits. It would take 40 hours to complete the learning.


Hanga Aro Rau sought feedback from industry stakeholders on the interest of development of micro-credentials for the sign-making sector. They wanted to ensure they were tailored to meet the actual needs and challenges faced by the workforce. Discussions with Hanga Aro Rau led to an understanding from industry that micro-credentials are necessary to support the sector, by helping to address some of the key concerns the industry is facing, such as skill shortages, attraction, and retention of staff.

Industry professionals were invited to share thoughts and express their interest in these micro-credentials to help shape the future of vocational education for our industry. The scope of need survey was drafted with positive feedback received from stakeholders. The scope of need paper is due to be submitted for approval with the development of micro-credentials to begin in 2024.