The recent Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications describes the ideal steps and processes to address current gaps for successful immigrant labour market integration. In Canada, regulatory authorities, in each provincial and territory jurisdiction, have the primary responsibility for implementing this framework.
In order to implement the framework, it is important to understand how the existing National Occupational Classification System and its companion processes impact regulator occupations.
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is the nationally accepted Canadian reference on occupations that organizes more than 30,000 job titles into 520 occupational group descriptions.
The NOC uses a matrix format with four (4) skill levels and nine (9) skill types.
Skill level corresponds to the type and/or amount of training or education typically required to work in an occupation. For example, skill level A usually requires a university education while skill level B usually requires a college education or apprenticeship training.
Skill type is based on the type of work performed, but it also reflects the field of training or experience that is normally required for entry into the occupation. For example skill type 7 is Trades, Transportation and Equipment Operators and Related Occupations.
The jobs in the classification system are then defined by titles, for example Motor Vehicle and Transit Drivers are a level C (occupations usually require secondary school and/or occupation-specific training), skill type 7 ( Trades, Transportation and Equipment Operators and Related Occupations.)
The NOC is used in many ways. Statistics Canada and Human Resource and Skill Development Canada use the NOC for strategic planning, development and implementation. Citizenship and Immigration Canada identifies occupations in high demand using the NOC.
The NOC also has companion processes that are very useful in developing occupation specific assessment and recognition frameworks.
Essential skills profiles, based on specific NOC codes, are written for occupation standards.
Essential Skills are the skills people use to carry out a wide variety of everyday life and work tasks. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.
Essential Skills are not the technical skills required by particular occupations but rather the skills applied in all occupations. For example, writing skills are required in a broad range of occupations. Of course, the complexity and frequency of writing varies. Some workers fill out simple forms every day, while others write daily or monthly reports.
Essential Skills enable people to do their work. For example, service technicians may frequently need to read and understand written work orders before they can do the repairs.
Occupational Language Analyses (OLA), based on essential skills profiles, are also written for occupations.
An OLA defines the standard English and French language requirements of an occupation based on the tasks identified in occupation-specific Essential Skills Profiles.
An OLA serves as a companion document to both the Essential Skill Profile and the National Occupation Classification system.
Both Essential skills and occupational language analyses are important in the development of an occupation specific assessment and recognition framework.
Another process, Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR), helps adults demonstrate and obtain recognition for learning that they acquire outside formal education settings.
PLAR is used to assess an individual’s knowledge and skills level relative to specific criteria. The establishment of clear, measurable criteria is the key to a high-quality PLAR process.
A variety of methods might be used to assess prior learning. They include demonstrations, structured interviews, and presentations of examples or products. Many colleges, universities, and professional licensing and certification bodies use written tests to assess an applicant’s prior learning.
Some organizations offer portfolio development courses. A portfolio is an organized collection of documents and other items that demonstrate what an individual knows and can do.
In some parts of Canada, licensing and certification bodies, such as the College of Dental Technicians of British Columbia and the College of Optometrists of Ontario, use PLAR to evaluate the knowledge and skills of internationally trained applicants wishing to enter their professions.
The National Occupation Classification System, Essential Skills Profiles, Occupational Language Analysis and Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition are one small part of any foreign qualifications initiatives undertaken by regulators under the Pan-Canadian framework.
Regulators must be prepared to integrate existing NOC work or plan new companion work for the occupations under their jurisdiction.
Douglas Ross is an advocate for integrity as a strategy for performance. He is a consultant with Principle Dynamics Consulting Inc of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and Augusta, Georgia, USA.
© 2010 All Rights Reserved, Douglas Ross, Principle Dynamics Consulting Inc.