I forgot- I have another bias. I am Canadian.
Accordingly, I am familiar with the Canadian concepts of : Sector Councils, National Occupational Standards, Career Mapping and Laddering, Certification, Accreditation, Competency-Based Standards, Assessor Materials, Essential Skills, Prior Learning Assessment, Language benchmarks, Foreign Credential Recognition, Equivalency and assorted other Canadian developments.
This will provide some structure to my investigations to go along with my stated bias of results through integrity and system thinking.
- What is a National Qualification System?
- What are the component parts of a NQS?
To answer these questions, I started in two unlikely spots- Lithuania and Portugal.
Lithuania defines a National Qualification System (NQS) as the entirety of the required, acquired and recognized vocational qualifications which satisfies the needs of the system of activities and individuals. This is a derivative of European Qualifications Framework.
The Lithuania NQS is based on the labor community requirements and the labor market needs. It is designed to facilitate lifelong learning and ensure the transferability between qualifications levels and the diversity of ways of acquiring qualifications.
The NQS outlines the National Framework of Qualifications and the designing of qualifications (research of activities, creation and development of the occupational standards). The NQS also outlines the acquisition of qualifications through the formal and informal learning and training or through the professional experience, evaluation and recognition of qualifications, as well as the management and quality assurance processes and measures applied in the functioning of NQS.
The NQS helps employers to evaluate employees’ competences, knowledge and skills and educational establishments to plan the development and skills improvement programs for both future and current employees.
Implementation of the National Qualifications System provides opportunities for the evaluation and comparison of qualifications of workers in different countries based on qualifications arranged in levels based on the complexity and nature of work performed. It enables students to understand what they know and what they do not know yet and workers to find jobs corresponding to their qualifications and to develop in order to increase their professional potential.
In Portugal the National Qualifications System promotes effective articulation of vocational training included within both the Educational System as well as in the Labor Market, establishing common objectives and instruments in the context of a renovated institutional framework. It also includes a National Qualifications Framework, which defines the structure of the qualification levels, based on the principles of the European Qualifications Framework, with respect to the description of national qualifications in terms of learning results, in accordance with the describers associated to each qualification level.
The National Qualifications Framework is aimed at integrating the national qualifications subsystems and improving access: the progression and quality of qualifications in relation to the labor market and civil society.
These two short descriptions provide preliminary insight into emergent patterns within a National Qualification System.
First, an NQS includes a NQF. I like this because I prefer systems over frameworks. A framework, for me, establishes the physical structure which shapes and contains sub-systems and processes. I tend to want to look at the overall system –both as a static and dynamic entity.
Second, both are integrated with the European Qualifications levels framework and its foundations of Competency based vocational education and training targeted to labor market needs and human resource requirements.
Third, both systems allude to a form of national occupational standards development, career laddering and a version of foreign credential recognition.
I must be honest. I am overwhelmed with the amount of work done in this area. I am also exhilarated to see the breadth and depth across the world.
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.
© 2009 All Rights Reserved, Douglas Ross, Principle Dynamics Consulting Inc.