You can’t see the forest for the trees.
In addition to attempting to discern the evolution of National Qualifications Systems, I also am part of the Canadian system and as is typical in Canada, trees are pretty important.
Michael Porter in The Competitive Advantage of Nations introduced the idea of a cluster. An industry cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field. Clusters are considered to increase the productivity with which companies can compete, nationally and globally.
The United Kingdom, Australia and Canada built on this concept and created sector councils. There are 34 sector councils in Canada that deal with the elements of a national qualifications framework in distinct ways that represent the industry sectors in which they serve.
In this post, we will first look at a Canadian sector councils, and review their purpose, objectives and benefits.
A sector is an area of economic activity that produces well-defined products or services and that can be distinguished by the occupations, activities and issues present. Examples of economic sectors include automotive, aviation, biotechnology, child care, environment, mining, petroleum, policing, and steel.
Sector councils are national partnership organizations that bring together business, labour and educational stakeholders. Operating at arms length from the Government, sector councils are a platform for stakeholders to share ideas, concerns and perspectives about human resources and skills issues, and, in a collective, collaborative and sustained manner, find solutions that benefit their sector.
The Sector Council Program (SCP) in Canada is guided by four principal objectives: • Increased industry investment in skills development to promote a quality workforce; • A learning system that is informed of, and more responsive to, the needs of industry; • Reduced barriers to labour mobility, leading to a more efficient labour market; and • Enhanced ability of industry to recruit and retain workers and to address human resources issues.
Sector councils are generally established after key stakeholders in the sector (business, labour and education) agree to work together to identify and address their sector’s current and emerging human resources and skills issues.
Sector councils plan and undertake activities to anticipate and respond to skills and labour market issues affecting their sectors, including: • Developing labour market information products to allow businesses to plan human resources and project investments; • Developing national occupational standards to facilitate labour mobility (including apprenticeship), influence college curricula and promote health and safety in the workplace; • Targeted recruitment and skills development initiatives that increase labour force participation and integration of under-represented groups such as aboriginals and immigrants; • Efforts to ensure that curriculum meets industry needs; • Skills development tools, including e-learning; • Essential skills initiatives; and • Tools and approaches to integrate foreign-trained workers.
By influencing the learning system, sector councils help ensure workers have the skills they need to get or stay in a job. Through the activities of sector councils, workers have access to practical and relevant learning in the workplace; improved adaptability to changing and/or new workplace environments; improved and/or increased job mobility; and the ability to participate more fully in the workforce.
Through the activities of sector councils, employers can offer new services and learning opportunities to their workers, have a strong voice in the development of skills and workplace learning strategies that meet their needs, the increased ability to anticipate and address emerging labour market issues; and gain a competitive edge with a productive and skilled workforce in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.
Sector councils provide many benefits to learning institutions, such as facilitating effective relationships between industry and the learning system and helping ensure curricula is responsive to, and reflective of, the sector’s needs.
This information was obtained from the Canadian HRSDC Sector Council Program site.
Douglas Ross is an advocate for the promotion of integrity as a strategy for performance.
© 2009 All Rights Reserved, Douglas Ross, Principle Dynamics Consulting Inc.