Direction and directors of competence 2

Approaches for pointing or description of competence

In part 1 several activities emerged from developing a strategy, creating a company and directing the competence of workers. Clearing the goals of the company and organising the production and/or services is one of these. Others are selecting a configuration of company units, their functions, production and competence concepts. Or the design of workplaces to ensure that the work is efficient and meets quality standards. Or the search for solutions to the tension between management control and independence or even autonomy of workers. And, finally, the search for solutions for the dynamics of the surrounding environment. Formulating guidelines for the description of tasks or bundles of tasks and also for the processes for development, expanding and transition of competence follows after the previous strategic activities. These guidelines have functions. In the case of HRM they are the referential framework for selecting, directing, coaching, and evaluations or workers. In the case of VET they are a framework for the development of training and exams. The question is what choices the developers have to make. The guidelines concern the transformation of the tasks of bundles of tasks into functional instruments for HRM of VET.


The division of tasks into detectable series of activities seems to be obvious, but is not. Because it is an implicit choice for a atomized of functionalized approach in which workers are machines instead of humans. Although this division contributes to efficiency and effectiveness, but ignores the fact that there is always a influence of workers. Other choices are possible and necessary. The final choice for an approach requires an information base.

  • The first step should be an analysis of the characteristics of the work and not a high degree of decomposition of the work. Decide first and foremost the amount of work to be done, autonomy in the choice of the work order, method, and the pace of work, the support of others and expertise. In other words, you clarify the set quantitative job demands, autonomy, contact opportunities and skill possibilities following Damme et all. Working with models of labour organisations, models for production and competence makes this easier. The development of a company, establishing features of labour and development of guidelines is also an tuning process for an optimal organisation.
  • The second step should be the determination of sets of criteria in order to create arrangements for selection and formative or summative evaluation and for education or development. A specific function for VET is a decomposition of de necessary competence into components for employability and absolute conditions, a prerequisite for curricular components.
  • The third step would be to determine the methods of measurement and decision rules for determining employability, contribution to company goals or to be developed competence; partly based on the characteristics of work.

 Assuming a universal competence concept for the guideline for many the easiest solution. I don’t think this is the best. The probability of non-valid tools for an adequate connection with the demand for employability will increase. In my opinion the characteristics of labour are not universal for any business or profession. Especially the production concept of the business units in the enterprise configuration defines the concept. Such a model, which is a production concept, summarizes many decisions about characteristics of labour. The detailed models can serve as evaluation tools for the assessment of all instruments for HR and VET. Guidelines for vocational miss such information, thereby creating a flat or naive interpretation of competence. Take in any manner whatsoever, production concepts in the guidelines. For example, as a compulsory feature of the educational and evaluative arrangements. Because the production concept affects the demands for competence, the balance between taking leadership and guidance, the freedom of workers and the extent to which the company or executives can structure the workplace. Naturally, the production concepts influence the educational and evaluative arrangements of vocational education. Altogether there are several strategic choices for businesses and vocational training.

 Strategic choices

Strategic choices for models of competence should be in line with the organisation of a company. This is hardly possible for vocational education for legislative reasons. Specific information about the organization of work in a company is missing; selection of a production concept as a reference is not possible. This hinders a direct link with the needs for competence. But in the Dutch constitution the government is responsible for the quality of education, including VET and takes several measures to compensate this lack of information in the models and the guidelines.

  •  A compulsory apprenticeship when following VET bridges the gap between a more theoretical approach of school and real work in companies. National qualification standards a the responsibility of a national committee with employers and Schools for VET as partners working together in a legal framework. Schools for VET also have to interact with companies in their region and work together in planning, development, training and examination for qualification.
  • The  European and the Dutch qualification framework provide a link with characteristics of work and indirect with production concepts. They offer a classification of levels of VET and a range of curricular building blocks for defining competence per level, mental activities for integration of theory and practice included. indicators of the levels are the job size, complexity and the independence or autonomy of workers.

 The uncertainty in the real action is an aspect that is omitted in the typing competence by HRM and vocational education. In both the environmental dynamics, production concepts and the unpredictability of work lack in the guidelines and the descriptions. Therefore a revision of the guidelines and formats is necessary. Extra action should be taken for getting data about the characteristics of the organisations of labour, the labour self and the tasks or task bundles. Above that an analysis of the uncertainty or unpredictability is needed.