Modern models are needed for a certificate of competence

Project News

TEXT | Elina Salo

Certificates of competence have been of clear benefit in employment. But what would be the certificate model of the future and how would it be obtained?

In employment services, the need for competence verification has been solved by building models for demonstrating competence in work activities and in authentic working environments under similar conditions in workshops. The unemployed have a huge amount of skills outside of diplomas and certificates and new skills can be learned during unemployment. Identifying competencies is central, especially when becoming employed is challenging. (See, for example, Wirén 2020.)

At the Osaaminen antaa siivet! event on 19 August 2020, Rector Riitta Konkola highlighted the good experiences of the competence identification pilot carried out at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, where ways were sought to identify the competence of asylum seekers. The aim was to support employment in tasks that correspond in competence to those in Finland. According to Konkola, the pilot started by getting to know people and personally mapping everyone’s skills. A certificate of the observed competence was issued, which, according to the pilot experience, was useful in job search. In the application situation for employers, Konkola described that they appreciated the fact that someone had verified the skills and employment occurred.

Learning always available

At the Osaaminen antaa siivet! event, Futurist Perttu Pölönen raised a dilemma related to time frame: “The Internet has created unlimited opportunities for studying, but in relation to the employer, competence is not always seen to be valid without an official degree and certificate. With new learning environments and modern ways of developing competence, new ways of verifying competence are also needed,” said Pölönen.

There is a clear challenge for training organizations and employers to stay current in this. Both are needed in order to develop agile ways of highlighting atypical skills or those acquired in modern ways and making use of their potential in the labor market.

Demonstrating competence through evidence

One way of verifying competence already used in working life is evidence-based vocational training. When studying with an education contract or apprenticeship, you will receive a certificate when you have demonstrated your skills in a real work environment. If the skills have already been acquired, other than sitting in a school, the sitting in school is no longer needed but instead, the certificate is earned by evidence. This, too, has its own challenges in keeping degrees in line with the needs of working life and modern skills.

Theperspective of the business community on the subject was also brought up at the Osaaminen antaa siivet! event: Although the employer does not do anything with the degree, the certificate nevertheless provides a guarantee that the skills are there.

Therefore, some kind of certificate model will be necessary in the future as well. The challenge is to reduce the rigidity of degree-centricity and increase the valuation of diverse certificates of competence. Does the certificate always have to be a written certificate, or could other evidence also serve as a certificate of competence, for example in a recruitment situation?

Wirén, Riitta 2020. Opinnollistaminen Espoon kaupungin työ- ja oppimiskeskuksessa.

Osaaminen antaa siivet! -event 19.8.2020, recording: