02 SES 10 B, Needs Analysis and Qualification Frameworks
This paper presents the major findings of an international study that
attempted to investigate the labour market outcomes of qualifications
frameworks in six countries – Belize, France, Ireland, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, and
Tunisia, as well as the regional framework in the Caribbean.
Policy makers and donors continue to support national qualifications frameworks and competence-based training systems, with the hope that they will improve the ways in which education and training programmes prepare people for work, help them to obtain jobs, and enable them to perform well at work.
In terms of substantive achievements of qualifications frameworks, there are not significantly different findings to earlier research, although some interesting specifics of each national case were uncovered, some of which are discussed. The focus of the paper, however, is not the policy questions – does this policy work, in what forms could it work, what would it take to make it work? Rather, it attempts to understand the underpinning issues, and reflect on why policy makers and international organisations continue to push this policy that continues not to work. A twofold commentary is offered, derived from an analysis of the differences among the countries and the frameworks in the study. First, qualifications frameworks can be seen as a symptom of the very real and more-or-less unresolvable problems that faces policy makers with regard to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) qualifications, which by their nature tend to proliferate and fragment, particularly in English-speaking countries or countries which have adopted British. In all countries qualification inflation is likely to be weakening links with labour markets, leading to inevitable difficulties for those aspects of education systems aimed at preparing people for mid-level work. Second, advocates and policy makers conflate different types of systems or interventions under the single term ‘qualifications framework’. This point is explained by exploring the differences of frameworks in the current study. The (limited) effectiveness of one type of system, whether currently or in the past, is used to justify the implementation of another substantially different system, because both go by the name ‘qualifications framework’. These two factors together may contribute to the continued enthusiasm of policymakers.
Allais, S. 2010. The Implementation and Impact of Qualifications Frameworks: Report of a Study in 16 Countries. Geneva: International Labour Office. Allais, S. 2014. Selling out Education: National Qualifications Frameworks and the Neglect of Knowledge. Rotterdam: Sense. Raffe, D. 2012. “What is the Evidence for the Impact of National Qualifications Frameworks?” Comparative Education 49 (2): 143–162. Souto-Otero, M. 2012. “Learning Outcomes: Good, Irrelevant, Bad or None of the above?” Journal of Education and Work 25 (3): 249–258. Wolf, A. 1995. Competence-based Assessment. Edited by H. Torrance. Buckingham: Open University Press. Wolf, A. 2002. Does Education Matter? Myths about Education and Economic Growth. London: Penguin. Young, M. 2005. National Qualifications Frameworks: Their Feasibility for Effective Implementation in Developing Countries. Geneva: International Labour Organization.
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