The project partnership has recognised that local economies in the East of England, in particular in Bedfordshire, are benefiting from the input of migrant workers from Europe. However, these skilled workers are finding it difficult to establish themselves in their respective trades as their skills, experience and qualifications are not being understood or recognised by local employers.
To address these difficulties and ease the recognition of skills, experience and qualifications, a system to facilitate these processes will be designed and developed. The considerable experience of UK NARIC in this area, together with the support of the partnership, will ensure a working system that can assist in improving transparency and mobility of European citizens.
In order to enable the development of a working system it will be necessary, with the co-operation of the project partners, to carry out research into the existing training systems, qualifications and skills required to undertake a number of occupations. This, in turn, will be linked to an actual analysis of the skills of workers skills in the partnership countries.
For the purposes of this project the following counties will be included in the study:
After much discussion with the partners and research into the construction industry of each country the following activity areas were identified for the initial system:
- Wood Activities
- Finishing Activities
- Brick and Stone Activities
The final outcome of the system will be a series of mapping / matrix tables enabling the comparison of specific occupations from the selected countries against an agreed set of competencies.
Benchmarking and Mapping
1. Methodological Development
UK NARIC has a wealth of experience in carrying out sectoral mapping, a process that involves comparing the content, mode and outcomes of international programmes in specific occupational areas to a given benchmark.
The benchmarks to which the awards will be mapped in this project will be determined by the partnership and represent the varying, yet complementary, interests of each country.
The methodology for this project will combine general UK NARIC evaluation methodology and criteria with a more in-depth review of content in the occupational fields.
In conjunction with the partners UK NARIC will design a framework and strategy by which the relevant data will be collated and analysed. This strategy will primarily involve the project partnership links to build a research framework that will allow information to be shared with the different partners in each of the countries included within the project. This will involve the provision of primary data, including confirmation of employers’ needs and verification of genuine experience and qualifications of workers.
To ensure the effectiveness of the framework and strategy it will be reviewed during consultation periods within the project.
The outcome will be a robust strategy for displaying and analysing data about European vocational training and skills development.
2. Data Interpretation
UK NARIC understands that qualifications and training differ from one country to another, however some of the differences can stem merely from interpretation, language and semantics. Often these differences can be overcome if the information is correctly interpreted. UK NARIC appreciates this, which is why the approach is not to find the equivalence of a qualification, but to provide recognition. Equivalence implies that a qualification in one country is identical to that in another in terms of content, level and outcome, Recognition on the other hand appreciates that all qualifications have differences, including a variety of key strengths and provisions. This is why co-operation with the partners to determine a fair and accurate interpretation of the data is crucial to aid mobility of the Eastern European workers and increases the transparency of their skills, experience and qualifications.
The outcome will be to develop with the project partners a clear set of competences, which will be understandable in the context of each education system.
3. Data Analysis
This is the process by which the information will be collated and compared and is divided into two stages: benchmarking and mapping.
The benchmark tables will provide a tool to assist in the comparability of qualifications to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). These tables will illustrate the qualifications available in the vocational sectors and how they compare to EQF levels. UK NARIC has considerable experience in benchmarking international qualifications and takes an extensive analytical approach based on the practice of credential evaluation. A qualification is analysed based on the following credential evaluation criteria:
- Entry requirements
- Status of qualification in country: For example does it fit into a domestic qualification framework
- Mode of study – vocational or occupational awards: Is the study based upon classroom study or the accumulation of skills and competences
- Pedagogical approach employed in country: Didactic or interactive
- Structure of study programme: Balance of theory to practice; generalised study, broad specialisation or narrow specialisation; progression of work within programme
- Relevance of study programme to current UK practice
- Focus of study: Underpinning national concept of this research
- Work experience / practical element
- Rigour of assessment
Having considered the above criteria, UK NARIC is then able to place an award for one country against the level of an award from another.
Once the information has been identified and collated into benchmark tables and compared to the EQF, the next step will be to map the content and outcomes of the awards. The mapping process will provide a key analytical tool to enable comparison of the content of different awards.
In order to do this it will be necessary to identify the competences that reflect each of the countries’ interests within the specific activity area. After collation of the initial data of course structure, content and outcomes, it will be necessary for UK NARIC to provide an initial analysis of the different construction activities in a summary report. The next step will be for the partners to meet and discuss this analysis to ensure that UK NARIC has understood and interpreted the qualifications adequately. The outcome at this stage will be an agreed list of competences for each activity area that will act as the benchmark against which all the qualifications will be compared.
Essentially there will be two specific outcomes from the data analysis stage. The first will be a table of qualifications for each country compared to the EQF and the second will be a series of tables or matrices mapping the competence outcomes of the awards or occupations to a set of agreed competencies.
4. Verification and validation
UK NARIC has internal procedures in place to ensure the accuracy of a comparability and will raise all new comparability evaluations at an internal committee where they will be peer reviewed by other UK NARIC credential evaluators. Decisions can also be referred up a hierarchy of additional expertise including Divisional Managers and the Managing Director.
This process enables full confidence in the research and analysis.
Having undertaken the benchmarking exercise, it is important to ensure the accuracy of the evaluation. This enhances the credibility of the research by opening it out to objective analysis by credential experts.
UK NARIC will look to the project partners, in particular the Chambers of Commerce, who will be able to offer a fair an independent analysis of the evaluation.
The outcome will be a website representing the construction sector in the participating countries and their appropriate qualifications, including access to the qualification tables and mapped equivalences that are securely quality assured for accuracy and fairness.