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Opinion - Competencies versus qualifications

2020-10-07  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Competencies versus qualifications
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Personnel certification has been and will continue to remain a desirable asset for any modern professional.
Achieving certification often represents a significant investment in time, effort and expense. 

Frequently, when deciding what tertiary level qualification to take, matriculates have to choose between a “competence-based” (going to VTCs or private colleges) or a “qualification-based” (Universities, Unam, Nust, IUM) type of certification programme. 
In most cases, qualification-based personnel certification is easier and less expensive to achieve. But is it actually worth it? What is the difference between a competence-based versus a qualification-based personnel certification programme?

In a time where the whole world is facing a period of economic downturn due to the Covid-19 pandemic, companies are forced to downsize as a measure to reduce the cost of production. In my own view, it is those who are competent who get lucky/spared. 
David Osborne once said: “it is not the mighty nor the swift that survives, but those who adapt to the current situation.”
Financial downturns require corporates, companies and even individuals to do more with less. As customers demand lower prices, staffing and resources are often cut. 

To compensate for the shortages, productivity must improve.
To improve on production, there is a great need for certain competences in an organisation, private or public.
What is competence anyway? In International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 19011:2011, Guidelines for auditing management systems, competence is defined as “the ability to apply knowledge and skills to achieve intended results.”
With competencies one easily demonstrates knowledge, skills, personal attributes, and qualifications specific to the job and/or scope of his or her job. 

On the other hand, having a qualification means that organisations have to rely on an individual’s education and qualifications, rather than on the basis of measurable competence.
The government in 2005 launched The Namibia Vocational Education Training (VET) Policy and the subsequent establishment of the Namibia Training Authorities, with the goal of working towards developing a knowledge-based economy (KBE). 

This call by the government for competence-based qualifications in institutions of higher learning is one that cannot be overemphasised.  
One key difference between the competence and qualification-based programmes is the change of emphasis from training to examination. 
Qualification-based programmes emphasize training while competence-based programmes emphasize the results of training by assessing competence through one or more methods of examination that must be valid, reliable, and independent. 

Competency-based certification programmes define first the competencies required so that they can be properly examined.
There are college dropouts who are CEOs of successful companies because they have competencies, not qualifications. 
Therefore, having both qualifications and competencies helps immensely but people can still excel through competencies rather than qualifications.

2020-10-07  Staff Reporter

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