Russian scientists have analysed international practices in the development of educational programmes and their application in the United States, the UK, Germany, and Asia, and outlined the conditions for the creation of successful training programmes for production employees, which would help to bridge the gap between labour and education.
In the 15th century, a blacksmith and an anvil, in the 21st century, a design engineer and a computer programme. Professions have changed over the years, but requirements for workers, conditions, process, and production volumes have always varied from country to country.
The globalisation of the economy time requires common standards and a common description of professions. The competency-based approach, which began to develop at the end of the 20th century, partially standardised the requirements for workers and the understanding of qualifications, but some differences remained. While in the United Kingdom the emphasis in the description is on the result of the activity (the ability to make the right detail), in the United States, for example, great attention is paid to human abilities (stress tolerance, teamwork skills).
The research group of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration’s Federal Institute of Educational Development (FIRO RANEPA) has analysed the competency-based approach in the US, Asia, Australia, Europe, and outlined the general criteria for creating effective vocational education and training programmes. To prepare good specialists, it is necessary to actively use the principles of standardisation of competencies and design of educational programmes under the global international experience.
One of the key conditions for the experts was flexibility. Each programme should be assembled from a set of modules that include relevant skills, knowledge and experience. This format ensures the opportunity to combine theory and practice. It provides an opportunity to alternate learning with work and to master the qualifications in parts, gradually improving them.
Three other important conditions are business participation in decision-making at all stages (from approval of the programme development to its content and evaluation of the results of its implementation), combined financing and practice-oriented approach.
According to the experts of FIRO RANEPA, employer's approval is a guarantee of the success of the training and the future demand of the student in the labour market. And the practice-oriented approach is directly related to the combined financing, in which a part of the costs of education is borne by the company concerned. The state provides a theoretical part of training in educational organisations, and business offers a platform for practising the acquired knowledge.
Humanitarian Investment in Vocational Training
In addition to the content of the courses, it is important to focus on teamwork and project activities that develop collaborative and independent abilities. In the process of performing the tasks, students analyse their successes, choose ways to overcome failures and conduct self-assessment of their work.
“The competency-based approach is built on the principles of interdisciplinarity and synchronisation of theory and practice. Students' dependence on the teacher should be at least partially reduced or supplemented by self-organisation. The teacher must organise the learning situation. Using the approach based on the assessment of students’ performance (competency standards), teachers have more time to use effective tools and methods of teaching, allowing students to experiment and adopt innovative approach to the acquired knowledge, skills and understanding of the possibilities of their application”, head of the Research Centre for Vocational Education and Qualifications Systems of FIRO RANEPA, Vladimir Blinov said.
The unified system of general professional training is also one of the key conditions for the success of professional educational programmes, experts believe. Scientists noted that it is advisable to develop modules applicable to several professions. For example, it would be useful for everyone to learn about labour protection. Such modules would serve as a general professional basis for training in different professional qualifications.
These conditions constitute the methodological basis for training qualified workers in most developed countries of the world and are used in the implementation of pilot projects on the development of competency-based vocational education programmes in several CIS countries. However, they are still not fully developed and implemented in the Russian Federation as such. These are grounds for serious concern in the near future.
This report was prepared based on the study conducted under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) project ”Applying the G20 Training Strategy –A Partnership of the ILO and the Russian Federation (Phase II)”.