THE RECENT WIDESPREAD of knowledge and information about National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQs) continues to pique the interest of many professionals and schoolleavers who are seeking to progress up the career ladder.
One element in the NVQ and CVQ courses is “occupational standards”. Occupational standards are detailed written descriptions of what an employee is expected to know and do in his/her work role.
They are benchmarks against which the actual performance of people in occupational roles can be measured or assessed and form the basis of NVQs and CVQs.
The aim of an occupational standard is to base training, qualifications and recognition of achievement on substantial evidence of what people are able to do as opposed to the predictable way of where they were trained, how long they were in training and so on. An occupational standard has many uses and functions to individuals, employers and the economy as well.
Some of the uses of an occupational standard are certificate recognition, performance management, competency, job specification, assurance of product and service delivery, organisation development, recruitment selection, developing education/training programmes, labour market analysis and planning, industry regulation and the development of publicly funded training regimes.
These are but a few of the various uses of an occupational standard which will be mentioned in this article.
For the individual
Certificate recognition – Occupational standards are used to provide recognized certification in the form of the NVQs and CVQs. Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council awards candidates who are assessed in a realistic work setting against the standards and deem these persons competent or not-yet competent in the specific occupational area and requisite level.
Performance management – Individuals can use an occupational standard as a guide to linking business objectives to individual objectives.
This aids individuals in setting standards for achievement and benchmarking to identify the nature and level of one’s future standards.
Competency – The NVQ and CVQ courses are comprised of units and modules. Within each unit or module there is an assessment to ensure that each candidate is able to perform the role outlined in a particular unit.
This allows for persons to be assessed as competent or not yet competent, if the candidate is deemed not yet competent, he/ she is able to undergo assessment until he or she is deemed competent as guided by the particular Occupational Standard.
For the employer
Job specification – Occupational standards also act as a guide in planning and implementing changes in job roles and specification for the human resources department.
This contributes to monitoring the outcomes of performance, assessing the added value that performance contributes to the business, reviewing and rewarding performance and giving structured and constructive feedback to one’s performance based on the job specification.
Assurance of product and service delivery – An occupational standard is also used to regulate a quality specification for work processes and outcomes.
In addition, it has the ability to guarantee customer service standards, guidelines for contract tendering, analysing potential suppliers and contractors competence and monitoring contract delivery or compliance.
Organization development – In every organisation there are specified needs. Occupational standards help to develop specification of the competence needs of an organisation, auditing the competence of an organisation, comparing the organisations skills profile to the level of competitors’ competence and benchmarking key areas of competence with the best in that area and assessing the consequences of change for the organisation’s competence.
Recruitment selection – Acquiring the best applicants for a job role can be a competitive advantage for an organisation whereas ineffective recruitment and selection can result in enormous disruption, reduced productivity, interpersonal difficulties and interruptions to operations.
An occupational standard helps to reduce the taxing task of these recruitments in identifying the performance requirements of a role/job, identifying the performance requirements of an anticipated/future role and preparing recruitment specifications.
For the economy
Developing education/training programmes – As the world changes daily, education and training needs change as well. Occupational standards help to bridge the gap with the changes in the economy. When a particular need arises the occupational standard is used as a guide to develop programmes and training to meet the need.
Industry regulation – Industry regulations affect the day-to-day operations of industries within a country.
However, when it comes to developing a digital strategy, it can be especially challenging when considering guidelines. Occupational standards help in this area of assessing compliance with regulators’ competence requirements and assessing the relevance of qualifications to regulators’ requirements.
In conclusion, the consensus is that there are a host of uses for an occupational standard.
The most recent use of an occupational standard for our economy is the development of publicly funded training regime – Competency-Based Training Fund – which recently presented opportunities of training for employers and training providers as well.
This training will help to obtain and attract an increased pool of qualified persons leading to higher productivity and competitive advantage.