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ECER Paper.

Note by Diskussant, Mr Brenig Davies (retired vice


principal)

Occupational Core Profiles – as European Approach: Paradigm


Shift or Alternative to Actual ECVET Concepts?

A Critical Discussion.

The purpose of this paper is to aid the discussion in the initial


stages of the symposium. It is based on my experience of
having worked with ITB University of Bremen on several
projects related to occupational core profiles over a decade
while being employed as a vice principal at a further education
college in the UK – Coleg Morgannwg, and on the four project
abstracts of the papers provided for the symposium. This note
represents my current understanding of some of the key points
in the present stage of development of occupational profiles.

The focus of my work as a vice principal, in respect of


occupational profiles, was the contribution vocational education
(VET) might make to the skill requirements of companies
operating in highly competitive market conditions. The
challenges facing companies were considered to include
ecological, short life span of products, extreme pressure to
reduce costs and maintain quality, speed of delivery to
customers, and the ability of employees to cope with rapidly
changing market conditions and technological advancement.

The model of occupational profiling seemed to offer an


approach worthy of further consideration in attempting to
apprise colleagues of suitable forms of curriculum development
to meet the skill needs of companies and sectors.

Central to the model of occupational profiling is work-process


analysis (WPA). This approach to producing occupational
standards and profiles, as an element in curriculum
development as a prerequisite to new vocational qualifications,
I’ve viewed as the “paradigm shift”.
In preparing for this symposium and in developing my
understanding the nature of the occupational profile model I
found it instructive to deduce and note the commonality that
exists in the abstracts in respect of language, concepts and
assumptions.

• Bottom-up: This term is used to argue the case for a


more responsive, valid and holistic determination of
course content. The term bottom-up is not meant to
exclude a top-down process, it is more to do with
acknowledging a change in emphasis to the shop-floor,
and recognising that work processes take place within a
sector and organisation.
• Work-Process Analysis (WPA): WPA is a survey of
skilled work, carried through with methods of vocational
science. It identifies the competency for the mastering,
the execution, and the shaping of occupational work tasks.
These competences include the work process knowledge1
of skilled workers necessary to overlook, to understand
and to (co)shape corporate business and work processes.

• Core Tasks; Typical Professional Tasks (TPTs): The


four projects surveyed and analyzed those typical tasks
(or work processes) which may define an occupation. The
language may have differed, but in general terms there
were considered to be relatively few major core work
processes that defined an occupation and made it
distinctive to other occupations. One project characterized
the core tasks as candidates mastering the major skills of
a profession.
• Sector Experts
It is evident that central to establishing occupational
profiles and standards is that of work- process analysis. To
gain a comprehensive view of modern work processes, the
four projects involved industrial sector experts.
1
„Work process knowledge means the understanding of the entire work process in which the
respective person is involved, with all product-related, technical, work organisational, social and
system-related dimensions” (Kruse 1986, p. 189).
Parallel papers have outlined the practice of involving
skilled workers, vocational education teachers and
trainers, curriculum and qualification designers in
curriculum development and learning programmes. The
papers explain that in taking a holistic view the sector or
company product or service should not lose sight of
quality and customer expectations, and the organisational
culture for encouraging innovation and product
development.
• Subsidiarity Principle: This principle is exercised in an
endeavor to reconcile the different requirements of key
interests in a curriculum and qualification: sector, national,
transnational, student, apprentice, skilled worker, major
company… The subsidiarity principle also embraces issues
related to the notion of transnational occupational profiles,
and recognition of qualifications.
• Content: The scope and specification of content will be
determined by the purpose, aims and objectives of each
curriculum and qualification. In determining the content
three dimensions seem critical i) work process influences
(object of skilled work, methods and technological
requirements), ii) innovative, entrepreneurial, managerial
propensities of the role, and iii) deference to the student,
apprentice, skilled worker as a citizen. Organization of
teaching and learning may also be viewed as forming part
of the work process concept of content.
• Common Architecture; Qualifications Framework:
These are issue for the future. However it seems
reasonable at this stage in the development of core
occupational profiles to hold the tentative view that there
is congruence between the model as a form of curriculum
construction and the procedures inherent in the aims of
EQF and ECVET. If one accepts the notion that quality is
more likely to be sustained and routinely improved if it is
rigorously addressed and secured at the design stage then
the indications are that the model of core occupational
profiles will complement and form a shared fundament
with ECVET and EQF.

Didactic Considerations
Parallel papers refer to three didactic pillars which may help
form curricula and training programmes designed on the WPA
model. The pillars are:

• work process orientation. This requires specialist


knowledge to be taught in an organisational context that
reflects best management practice

• product orientation. This requires teaching and learning to


be directed towards the sector’s product or service

• acting and task orientation. This is evident when students’


and trainees’ cognitive, planning and practical skills are
developed and challenged through integrated tasks,
processes and assignments. This is likely to be more
evident where trainees, trainers and skilled workers
together create learning opportunities.

In addition to the broader questions about compatibility,


transparency and recognition of qualifications there are
questions about the model of occupational profiling
contributing to:
• a VET system that is in accord with local, regional and
state economies

• highly skilled personnel promoting the efficient


organisation of modern companies
• to a training provision that enables apprentices to become
skilled workers efficiently
• the inherent scope to enable skilled workers and other
learners to review options when considering solutions to
work-problems
• the routine prominence given to planning, work
organisation, team work and the pursuit of quality to meet
customer expectations
• the emphasis given to increasing innovative capacity of
companies through confident and competent workers
• an understanding of the societal gains which accrue from
efficient production and high quality products and service.