Competences
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English
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Competences

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92 Pages
English

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The world, the facts
Vocational training

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Language English
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Nr. 1/1994 CEDEFOP
Π
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Competences:
the word, the facts • * +
EUROPEAN JOURNAL VOCHTIGNAL TRAINING 1/94
'*·'
Editor: Fernanda Reis Published under the responsibility of: CEDEFOP
Ernst Piehl, Director European Centre
Corrado Politi, Deputy Director for the Development Editorial committee:
Enrique Retuerto de la Torre, of Vocational Training
Deputy Director Chairman:
fean Monnet House J.F. Germe, Conservatoire National des
Technical production, coordination: Bundesallee 22 Arts et Métiers (CNAM), France
D-ΙΟΊ 11 Berlin Bernd Möhlmann, Barbara de Souza
Tel: 4930+88 41 20 Matéo Alaluf, Université Libre de
Telex: 184 163 eucen d Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium Responsible for translation:
Tina Bertzeletou, CEDEFOP Colin Mc Cullough Fax: 4930+88 41 22 22
Keith Drake, Manchester University,
Great Britain Coordination (translation):
Julio Sanchez Fierro, Asociación de Alison Clark
Mutuas de Trabajo, Spain
Gunnar Eliasson, The Royal Institute Layout: Werbeagentur Zühlke Scholz &
of Technology (KTH), Sweden Partner GmbH, Berlin
Paolo Garonna, Istituto nationale di
statistica (ISTAT), Italy Technical production on DTP:
Eduardo Marçal Grilo, Fundação Axel Hunstock, Berlin
Calouste Gulbenkian, Portugal
Peter Grootings, CEDEFOP The contributions were received on
Alain d'Iribarne, Centre National de la or before 20.03.1994
Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France
Bernd Möhlmann, CEDEFOP Reproduction is authorized, except for
Arndt Sorge, Humboldt­Universität commercial purposes, provided that the
Berlin, Germany source is indicated
Enrique Retuerto de la Torre,
Catalogue number: HX­AA­94­OOl­EN­C CEDEFOP
Reinhard Zedier, Institut der
Deutschen Wirtschaft, Germany Printed in
CEDEFOP is a Community body es­
the Federal Republic of Germany, 1994 tablished by the Council of Minis­
ters' decision of 10.2.1975. The Representative of the Management
Centre has a Management Board in
This publication appears three times a Board:
which four parties are repre­
sented; the employers, the trade Anne­Françoise Theunissen, year in Spanish, Danish, German, Greek,
unions, the national governments Confédération des Syndicats Chrétiens English, French, Italian, Dutch and
and the European Commission.
Portuguese de Belgique (CSC), Belgium
CEDEFOP has the task of contribu­
ting to the development of vo­
cational training in the European
Union through its academic and
technical activities. The Centre
responds to questions posed by
the European Commission and the
various groups represented on the
Management Board and has the
task of producing information
which is relevant, concise and de­ Call for contributions
finitive in a Community perspec­
tive.
The Editorial Committee wishes to encourage the spontaneous contribution of
The Work Programme focuses on articles. Articles submitted will be examined by the Editorial Committee which
two main areas:
reserves the right to decide on publication. It will inform the authors of its
J trends in qualifications decision. Articles (3 to 10 pages, 30 lines per page, 60 characters per line)
Js in training systems. should be addressed to the editors of the Journal. Manuscripts will not be
returned.
CEDEFOP uses a variety of tools to
implement this programme:
The following topics are currently being prepared:
_J studies and analyses
J information (in a variety of
forms) □ "The development of vocational training in a European context"
J the creation of opportunities for □ ''Informal apprenticeships in the company"
the exchange and transfer of in­
formation.
CEDEFOP * •
**EUROPEAN JOURNAL VOCHTIONHL TRRINING1/94 * *
***
Editorial
A new title: The Vocational Training Jour­ give important impetus for reflection and
for the activities of all involved. nal now becomes the European Vocational
Training Journal.
An editorial committee: to select arti­ For whom and with whom?
cles and guarantee the quality of the
Journal. The Journal addresses everyone contribu­
ting to changing vocational training. It
One aim: to be a platform for debate, a addresses decision­makers, social part­
source of innovation to accompany and ners, trainers, researchers, private and
mould vocational training in Europe. public stakeholders. It is not a journal
written by specialists to address other
specialists.
A new Journal, why?
It is open to debate and rigorous reflec­
Vocational training plays a fundamental tion in order that readers obtain an over­
part in changing national economic and all view of trends in vocational training
social systems and in European construc­ in each country in the European Union,
tion. The choices offered by vocational and that they acquire a better understand­
training will mould the social and eco­
nomic future of each country and Euro­
pean construction.
The creation of an Editorial Committee, the decision of the CEDEFOP Vocational training is omnipresent: in the
Management Board, marks a turning point in the life of the Journal. quest for increased competitiveness, in the
emergence of new forms of labour organi­
Such a decision, which strengthens the role of the Journal in zation, new manpower management
disseminating information from CEDEFOP, aims to continue to improve methods, in the struggle against exclusion
quality and to ensure openness to current debates and issues relating phenomena and in social cohesion. It
to vocational training in Europe. should reconcile the needs of the
economy and democracy, of the markets
and of social life. The priorities of the Committee are to ensure the relevance of information
with regard to issues the Community is facing, to ensure readability
and a balance of approaches. The Committee is autonomous while To elucidate the choices made by
respecting the guidelines set out by the Management Board. stakeholders, particularly with regard to
vocational training policy, the journal has
We hope that this new phase will satisfy needs for information on a twofold mission:
vocational training at a time of great economic and social change in the
Member States of the European Union. □ it is necessary and possible to bring
together the reflections of stakeholders
Ernst Pieni and of researchers.
□ issues relating to vocational training
should be placed in a context which, al­
though surpassing it, helps to mould it. ing of the coherence of each vocational
Social changes, economic trends, trends training system and can analyse the chal­
in labour markets, companies, the struc­ lenges confronting vocational training in
ture and content of employment. Europe.
Debate and reflection should not cease The Editorial Committee is made up of
here. Certainly, each vocational training stakeholders and researchers from differ­
system has its specific nature and a co­ ent countries from within the Community.
herence of its own. But their rigorous It welcomes articles from a variety of
sources as it does spontaneous contribu­comparison and the circulation of ideas
CEDEFOP
Mi * · ■# EUROPEAN JOURNAL *■ * VOCRTIONRL TRAINING 1/94
tions. The Journal wishes progressively ing bodies; others will focus on specific
to establish contacts and relations with experience. The bibliographic section will
national journals in the area of vocational try to provide exhaustive information on
training. comparative studies of any origin and will
survey important studies in each country.
How? The ambitions of the Journal are high.
Language differences are not the main
The three annual issues of the European hurdle. Lucid articles are important as
Vocational Training Journal will contain the social, economic and cultural context
articles drawing attention to studies and of each reader and each author varies
research work, to innovation or to the greatly. The Editorial Committee will be
reflections of stakeholders. careful to ensure that each article con­
tributes to understanding the social, cul­
tural, economic coherence of each voca­Certain articles will permit the reader to
tional training system. identify the more important studies car­
ried out in each country of the European
Union and, in particular, comparative We also wish to progress. A new sum­
studies completed on the initiative of mary, new presentation, a new biblio­
CEDEFOP, the European Commission, in­ graphical section in this issue is but an
ternational organizations and European or initial stage. It remains for the reader to
foreign research teams. A number of ar­ monitor, to help and to express his opin­
ticles will consider the reactions and opin­ ion on our efforts.
ions of stakeholders, professional organiz­
ations, trade unions, company managers,
and those in responsible positions in train­ The Editorial Committee
.­:v?y::.:;; )
­i! .iv
CEDEFOP
2 «monni, umi im EUROPEAN JOURNAL #
From qualification to
competence: what are Competences:
we talking about?
Peter Grootings the word, the facts
It has become very popular
recently in Europe to talk
about "competence".
However, people do not
In Germany
necessarily talk about the
same thing when they use the
same word. Thus, there is a Teaching competence in initial and continuing vocational
risk that the longstanding training in the Federal Republic of Germany
confusion that has existed Gerhard P. Bunk
around the meaning of the The occupational learning process should be designed in such a way that it
concept "qualification " in induces the learner to undertake self­organized action in the course of many
various countries now will be learning processes.
repeated with the concept of
"competence".
The debate in the United Kingdom
Industrial change, "competencies", and labour markets
David Marsden
Finding a suitable regulatory framework will be central to the future
success of competency­based skill systems.
"Competence" and Context: Sketching the British Scene
David Parkes
(An) important factor for the British is not the conceptualisation of
a 'competences' approach but its implementation in specific economic,
structural and ideological contexts.
Measuring competence: the experience of the United Kingdom
Alison Wolf
"If competences are to have any major policy relevance at national or European
level, the meaning one person ascribes to a competence must be recognisably the
same as another's. This means that issues of definition and measurement are
fundamental".
Assessment, Certification and Recognition of Occupational
Skills and Competences
Hilary Steedman
A single, usually a publicly­controlled body is an efficient way of ensuring a simple
stable and reliable system of certification. However, ...
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Qualification or competence?
Does competence mobilize the worker?
Mateo Alaluf, Marcelle Stroobants
The shift towards the concept of competence "weakens an approach which placed
skills at the centre of a whole set of social f actors". •
EUROPEAN JOURNAL * : VOCATIONAL TRAINING 1/94
***
In companies
Organizational and political changes in training:
What does this mean for competence?
Ph. Méhaut
"...a development in the logic of construction and encouragement of skills'
Trends in Worker Recruitment Practices in Swedish Companies
Eugenia Kazamaki Ottersten
Firms look at the overall grades in communicative subjects rather than for specific
knowledge.
An opinion from the social partners
Skills versus competence:
Semantic debate, development in concepts or political challenge?
Interview with Andrew Moore (UNICE),
and Anne-Françoise Theunissen (CES),
undertaken by F. Oliveira Reis, CEDEFOP.
Reading
Reading selection
Reviews
Publications received by the editorial office
V 'i::>
CEDEFOP
4 * *
*EUROPEAN JOURNAL VOCHTIOMDL THHIHIHG1/34 *
Peter
From qualification to Grootings
Project coordinator,
CEDEFOP Berlin competence: what are
we talking about?
However, there remains the problem of It has become very popular recently in
finding agreement on a) what is exactly Europe to talk about "competence". How­
meant by competences and b) how they ever, people do not necessarily talk about
can be presented clearly and simply in a the same thing when they use the same
portfolio. Moreover, there still remains the word. Thus, there is a risk that the
question as to the purpose of having such longstanding confusion that has existed
instruments but that is another matter. Let around the meaning of the concept "quali­
us here simply assume that there is a need fication" in various countries now will be
for something that would make European repeated with the concept of "compe­
mobility, either in terms of education or tence". During a series of small workshops Does the concept of com­
employment, more easy. Earlier, we have that CEDEFOP organized in 1992 with ex­ petence offer better
referred to the problems connected with perts from different countries, it proved chances (other than those
trying to establish one generally accept­to be impossible to agree on one com­ offered through qualifi­
able definition of competences. A recent mon definition of the term. cation) for developing
OECD conference on the issue came up
European instruments f or
with the same conclusion. Until this prob­
From our experience in developing Eu­ mobility and trans­
lem has been solved, it does not make
ropean instruments for mobility and trans­ parency?
sense to waste energy on the more tech­
parency based on the concept of qualifi­
nical matters implied by the second ques­
cation we have learned that the meaning
tion. In practice, however, much of the
of qualification is embedded in the spe­
discussion has concentrated on exactly
cific context of each individual national
these technical questions.
vocational education and training system.
We have also learned that this meaning is
dependent on how training systems re­ Given the fact that apparently there exist
late to labour market structures, systems many definitions of competence,
of industrial relations, and forms of work CEDEFOP has tried during a second round "... CEDEFOP has tried...
organization. In fact, depending on how of seminars held in 1993, to clarify why, to clarify why, how and
these relations have developed in each how and from which quarters in dif­ from which quarters in
country, we have observed that qualifi­ ferent countries the concept of compe­ different countries the
cations refer to either educational diplo­ tence has entered the policy debates about concept of competence has
mas, characteristics of labour market cat­ vocational education and training. In view entered the policy debates
egories (such as occupations), classifica­ of the experiences with qualifications, a about vocational educa­
tions in wage systems, work posts inside good understanding of the societal con­ tion and training."
the enterprise, or particular combinations text in which discussions about compe­
of these. Because of this very "societal" tence have developed, seems to be a sine-
meaning of qualifications it has proved qua-non for any attempt to develop al­
to be difficult, if not impossible, to de­ ternative European instruments.
velop any European instruments based on
this concept.
A first - surprising - result from these dis­
cussions was the fact that in some coun­
Now, does the concept of "competence" tries competences are indeed widely dis­
offer better chances to develop such Eu­ cussed but that in other countries the con­
ropean instruments? Recent initiatives cept does not play a major role in the
taken by the Commission with regard to policy debates at all. A second conclu­
the "portfolio of competences" seem to sion was that there where competences
assume that this is indeed the case. At were discussed, this was done so in or­
first sight the idea is attractive avoiding der to solve very specific problems of
as it does all the complex implications national educational systems. A third con­
that were connected with qualifications. clusion was that the debates about
CEDEFOP * EUROPEHN JOURNHL VOCATIONAL TRAINING 1/94 ë
competences were not only very coun­ further momentum with the growth of
try­specific but at the same time these further education and training of adults
debates also "borrowed" elements of the inside the firms. Here, most clearly a com­
competence debates from other countries. petence approach conflicts with existing
structures and institutions.
In all the EU countries there is an ongo­
ing discussion about improving the qual­ J In the Netherlands the present discus­
ity of vocational education and training, sion is held within the context of a) fur­
in terms of making it more relevant for ther integration of educational streams
the labour market and the employment and institutions b) decentralization of re­
system. It is within this general context sponsibility for the teaching process (and
that the concept of competence has been for financing) c) a dualisation of all forms
introduced in some countries. This also of vocational education, including tradi­
explains the variety of meanings given to tional school­based ones, and d) greater
competence, since its use is directly de­ internal flexibility with more transition
pendent on the definition of the princi­ possibilities within the system. Compet­
pal problems of national vocational edu­ ences are understood as being similar to
cation and training systems. It is also de­ qualifications, which in turn refer basi­
pendent on who defines the problems. cally to diplomas and certificates.
Thus, problem setting has been and still
is very national specific. International as­ □ In countries such as Spain and Portu­
pects normally only are taken into con­ gal, competence is discussed in the con­
sideration in general terms ("international text of developing a formal vocational
competition forces us to improve our vo­ education and training system. Here, one
cational education system"), or in com­
can find a combination of borrowing from
parative perspective ("we have to reach
the UK ­ in terms of developing stand­
European standards"), or in terms of mod­
ards for initial education; and from France
els or tools that can be learned from. It
­ in terms of developing adult education
does appear, however, that "European­
and training in the enterprise.
isation" of education and training is not a
major concern for national policy mak­
From these various national debates, one
ers.
can actually deduce two different types
of discussion themes: one is about intro­
The debate in EU countries □ In UK, for example, the debate on ducing a competence­based approach
competences was initially steered by the to vocational education and training, and
assessment issue while some of the par­ a second is about adapting existing voca­
tional education and training to the emer­ticipants argue that the real problem is
gence of new competences resulting the organization and support of vocational
from new forms of work organization and education. The competence approach is
new types of recruitment strategies of here very much output­oriented and
enterprises. (See on new competences the based on assessment according to detailed
articles by Allaluf and Stroobants, Méhaut, standards (see the articles by Parkes and
and Ottersten). Of course, these discus­Wolf).
sions are not always independent of each
other but the distinction may be useful. □ In Germany, the discussion around
occupational competence is already more
than 15 years old and was held in the It then appears that discussions about a
context of despecialisation of vocational competence­based approach are domi­
education in Germany. Here, compet­ nant in those countries where the provi­
ences are closely connected to global sion of vocational education and training
occupational definitions and the debate is weak, or where there is profound dis­
concentrates on improving the learning satisfaction with the existing system. In
process (see the article by Bunk). A simi­ the first case this leads to focusing on
lar situation is to be found in Denmark. developing standards of achievement and
an orientation towards outputs. This we
find most prominently in the UK. In the □ In France, the discussion about
second case this leads rather to improv­competences has been initiated in a cri­
ing the process of education and training tique of traditional knowledge­oriented
in order to make these more competence­pedagogics in the schools and received
CEDEFOP *
* * EUROPEAN JOURNAL VOCATIONAL TRAINING 1/94
*
based instead of their traditional knowl­ grate different subsystems of education
edge-orientation. This would be the situ­ and thus to increase the internal flexibil­
ation in France. Countries such as Spain ity of educational institutions. Other ex­
and Portugal, faced as they are with de­ amples can be found in the growing in­
veloping a whole "new" system of voca­ terest in modularisation of education, or
tional education as part of the formal edu­ in the discussions about educational
cational system, are then confronted with vouchers, which would allow flexibility
the need to both develop standards and in using educational facilities over time.
to develop appropriate learning proc­ Discussions about flexibilisation of labour
esses. The big question will be where they markets are of course much older. The
will put the emphasis. discussions about new forms of work or­
ganization also imply the disappearance
In contrast, discussions on the need to
of traditional forms of work division, the "The shift from qualifica­
"adapt" to new emerging competences
blurring of demarcation lines, both hori­ tion to competence at the
appear to be dominant in countries that
zontally and vertically, and - not least - European level therefore
basically avail of a well developed and
the prospect of continuous organizational is much more than simply
resourced vocational education and train­
change. The relevance of the concept of a change of wording. It is
ing system. This is the case of Germany,
"competence" also has to be understood not always easy to admit
Denmark and the Netherlands. Here, it
in this context. It has become of prime that we do not yet know
seems, the introduction of competence-
importance for enterprise management to exactly what it does mean.
based education is not a big issue since
be well informed about the potentials of But precisely because of
there is considerable consensus that the
each individual (his/her competence) in this, it may well be much
vocational education system indeed pro­
the work force, in order to be able to de­ too early to try to develop
duces the competent workers that the
velop realistic organizational strategies. It at this stage "simple" tech­
employment system asks for. This is not
is clear that this means a growing "indi­ nical tools. "
to say that these countries have no prob­
vidualization" of human resource manage­
lems at all, but through the involvement
ment inside the enterprise.
of social partners, on the one hand, and
connected with this, through the orienta­
If this is so, then the implications for tra­tion toward socially accepted occupa­
ditional industrial relations and labour tional definitions, both the industrial re­
market institutions are tremendous, based lations and labour market mechanisms are
as they are on collective and institution­in place that can guarantee a high degree
alized categories. Discussion of these im­of congruence between education and
plications have only just begun (see arti­employment. This does not mean that the
cles by Marsden, Allaluf and Stroobants, other countries are not facing the chal­
and the interview with Moore and lenge of coping with new competences
Theunissen). The shift from qualification as is illustrated by the belated introduc­
to competence at the European level tion of general qualifications in the UK
therefore is much more than simply a system.
change of wording. It is not always easy
to admit that we do not yet know exactly The actual discussions about improving
what it does mean. But precisely because the relationships between education and
of this, it may well be much too early to employment are distinct from earlier dis­
try to develop at this stage "simple" tech­cussions in the sense that they are now
nical tools. They may be technically sim­very much marked by attempts to intro­
ple but politically very complicated. The duce a greater degree of flexibility on the
articles included in this issue of Vocational side of the educational system. One can
Training have been chosen to clarify some find this back in the attempts undertaken
of the issues at stake. in the Netherlands for example to inte­
CEDEFOP EUROPEAN JOURNAL VOCATIONAL TRAINING 1/94 * ·. *
Gerhard P.
Teaching Competence Bunk
Professor at the Uni­
versity of dessen. in Initial and Continu­
For many years a
member of the REFA
Association for Work ing Vocational Training Studies and Work Organiza­
tion: current chairman of the
committee for industrial edu­ in the Federal Republic cational science and staff
development
of Germany
The motto of the times is ity". Occupational ability encompasses Competence
Change. The urgent need all the knowledge, skills and abilities re­
for economic survival has quired to perform the defined tasks asso­
forced vocational work "Competence" is a term which crops up ciated with specific occupations.
into radical change. To­ in a variety of contexts including initial
day, enterprises are in­ and continuing vocational training. The The term "qualification" was introduced
creasingly trying to attain term is used neither uniformly nor always during the general discourse on curricula
their uppermost objectives appropriately. Competence, originally an in Germany in the late 1960s and has been
- making profit, keeping organizational concept, regulates respon­ in use in vocational education ever since.
the enterprise alive, sibilities for sections and departments of To begin with, vocational qualifications
achieving the greatest pos­ a state or an enterprise and empowers primarily encompassed all the knowledge,
sible efficiency while ob­ the respective heads or managers to make skills and ability required for individual
serving humanitarian val­ certain decisions. There is not necessar­ occupations, but more recently the term
ues, securing a high mar­ ily a congruence between conveyed de­ has been expanded to include flexibility
ket share and further de­ cision-making powers and an individual's and independence on a broad occupa­
velopment of the enter­ ability to take decisions, however. A stark tional basis. There is a gradual departure
prise - through the use of contrast to everyday working life where away from specialization towards de-
new technologies, reduc­ the customer calls the repair man he con­ specialization, away from dependence to­
tion in costs, product in­ siders to be competent to solve his (re­ wards independence. The new training
novation, more flexible pair) problem, i.e. has the ability to solve regulations that have been introduced for
organization and more dy­ his. Not everyone who has been many occupations in the Federal Repub­
namic management. awarded a master craftsman's certificate lic of Germany now require training en­
These goals are being and the associated formal competence terprises to impart the demanded knowl­
reached through perma­ enjoys the reputation of a competent spe­ edge and skills in such a way that train­
nent innovation in the cialist, however. In the above example, ees will be able to carry out qualified
way the business is run, the crucial factor is the actual ability to occupational activities. This incorporates
together with a new social solve particular problems. We should in particular "independent planning, ex­
awareness amongst staff. therefore distinguish between formal com­ ecution and checking of tasks".
This has consequences for petence as imparted responsibility and
the qualifications and material competence as acquired ability.
In the early 1970s, the German Council
competence of personnel Only material competence is significant
for Education defined "competence" of a
and for their initial and in discussions on vocational education.
pupil undergoing education as the objec­
continuing vocational
tive of the learning process in general
training. This article de­
terms, without stating what inl it
fines the terml
meant by "competence". It also de­Vocational competence
competence, identifies its
manded that humane and socio-political
contents and points to
competence be imparted in addition to
methodological means of
specialized competence using integrated Ever since recognized industrial voca­
teaching competences.
learning processes. Vocational and oc­tional training occupations developed in
cupational educationalists adapted the Germany at the beginning of the 20th
term, but saw the goal of training as meet­century, vocational training has focused
ing the technological, economic and so-primarily on imparting "occupational abil­
CEDEFOP