This post is an extract of a position paper, Key Competency Badges, a reflection based on the work done in the TRANSIt project in relation to the acquisition of key competencies.
How to combine Open Badges with key competencies? To what result? One way to approach this question is to recognise that key competencies are just one particular group of competencies, so what is good for the recognition of competencies in general, is likely to be just as good for key competencies. As there are already plenty of Open Badges used to recognise a large range of competencies, then it is just a matter of extending current practice.
What is implied with this approach is that Key Competency Open Badges will need key competency standards similar to the UK key skill 2000 introduced above. While it might seem unproblematic to define standards related to the mastery of mathematics and foreign languages, things might get more complicated with digital competencies and even more with the sense of initiative and entrepreneurship and social and civic competencies. For example, the French authorities decided to remove ‘entrepreneurship’ from the European key competency labelled “sense of initiative and entrepreneurship.” The French version is “autonomie et initiative”  (autonomy and initiative).
Wednesday 16 October 2013, I was invited to give a keynote address at a conference in Warsaw celebrating the publication of 300 competency standards at the initiative of the Department of Labour Market from the Polish Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Participants included the State Secretary from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, representatives of social partners such as the Polish Craft Association, the Polish Chamber of Commerce, different employer associations and trade unions.
It was interesting to witness how much has been achieved 6 years after the publication of 200 qualification standards and my first visit to Warsaw when on the 18 December 2007 I was invited to give a keynote at a conference entitled National Occupational Standards as a Tool for Employment and Education Policy. The brief for this year’s keynote was to invite the participants to explore the potential of those newly published competency standards to support, recognise and accredit learning.
What follows is the abstract of my presentation.
The highlight of last week for me was a trip to the wonderful city of Bologna to speak at a conference for nursing professionals on the development of competencies organised by IPASVI, the national nursing federation. It was a pleasure to meet our colleague and EIfEL member, Stuart Cable, Interim Lead for Learning Zone of the Royal College of Nursing in the UK. I gave an overview of ePortfolio activities in the healthcare sector in Europe and a brief outline of the role of the ePortfolio in the creation of digital identity. Stuart presented the impressive RCN ePortfolio and its use in professional development in the UK.
Can we have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to competency as the European Qualification Framework seems to hope? I think the answer is yes if the EQF remains a framework in which national frameworks can find their place. The Italian nursing profession is now tackling the challenge of defining competencies and designing development programmes – a process that some EU countries have already gone through and others have yet to address. Once again, context is critical. The eternal round of elections in Italy has inevitable repercussions on the availability and deployment of resources. The profession is making a concerted effort to improve its image and raise the level of qualifications. It was clear that they were in agreement with the broad view of competence as presented by the EQF that includes such ‘metacompetencies’ as learning to learn, working with others, communication and problem-solving. At the same time, there seems to be a need for consensus on basic technical competencies. We shall make slower progress to achieving the goal of professional mobility if some nurses can prescribe medication (UK) and some can’t (Italy).
The only slight downside to the event for me was trying to communicate the excitement of the subject in 7.5 minutes (15 mins with consecutive translation!). However we aim to follow up this ‘headline delivery’ with more detailed work in the ePortfolio healthcare SIG. So far there is interest in this group from Italy, France, the UK and Australia. All other expressions of interest welcome. We’ll be posting information soon and arranging a meeting before the summer in preparation for ePortfolio 2008 in Maastricht.