NATIONAL QUALIFICATION FRAMEWORK AND DUAL EDUCATION
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NATIONAL QUALIFICATION FRAMEWORK AND DUAL EDUCATION

Over the past period, we were focused on the need for introduction of dual education system in our country and acquiring relevant qualifications according to the requirements of the business community. This brought up a few questions:

1.    What does relevant qualification mean?
2.    Where are these qualifications systematized
3.    How informed are we about the National Qualifications Framework?

The subsequent question that arises is why are we hearing about the National Qualifications Framework at present, that is, what is its relation with the dual education system? 

In order to answer the questions we need to be aware that the National Qualifications Framework, which was introduced in 2013, represents a national standard in the establishment of system of qualifications acquired in our country.

It systematizes the qualifications in eight levels and provides clarity and comparability thereof.

Its application contributes to the reduction of the gap between the skills acquired by the students and those required by the companies. In other words, development of qualifications required by the business sector to provide qualified workforce that reflects their relevance, and simultaneously, delivery of qualifications through the dual education system, acquisition of knowledge in school, and practical skills and competences in the company workplace.  

These are the answers to the questions, especially regarding the connection between the National Qualifications Framework and the dual education system. However, this is only one of its benefits to the dual education system.

Therefore, I will here focus on four major benefits for the introduction of a dual education system from the National Qualifications Framework:

     1. Achieving balance between the workforce requirements of the market and the supply of qualifications on the part of education and training
Education must have a vision in order to predict the skills and competences that future labor markets would require and create qualifications that will correspond to the requirements of the business community. The requirements of the business community are reflected in the learning results (knowledge, skills and competences) and by reading the learning results the employers gain an insight into the competences the qualification holder possesses. 

   2. Vision for reforms and modernization of the education and training system
The discrepancy between the requirements of the labor market and the supply of qualifications on the part of education unquestionably imposed the need for discovering appropriate solutions to ensure a dynamic economic future and larger flexibility of education. This stimulated establishment of a new process for achieving relevant learning results, which is carried out through modularization of the educational programs in vocational education and by standardizing everything that should be acquired as knowledge, skills and competences through the introduction of Occupational Standard and Qualification Standard. The Occupational Standard represents the language the business community speaks in and describes the functional assignments of the occupation and the competences needed for the occupation, whereas the Qualification Standard is the language of education, which describes how to acquire knowledge, skills and competences needed to complete the functions and job responsibilities of the occupation. Practical skills are acquired through completion of practical training at an employer/company and represent an opportunity for the business sector to secure quality labor that will join the working process immediately. This is a demonstration of the dual education system.

   3. Joint platform on cooperation and communication of the educational institutions and the business sector
Before the establishment of a National Qualifications Framework, the only education policymakers were the Government and the educational institutions. Today, when designing new qualifications and modernizing the existing ones, the business sector plays a significant role in the development of the Occupation Standards and the Qualifications Standards in terms of expressing its requirements due to the shortage of human resources and qualified workforce. In this process, the business sector places its focus on what the people are supposed to know and what they should be capable of after acquiring the qualification, instead of on what they are supposed to learn. This increased the importance of the Sectoral Qualifications Councils, to identify the requirements for every type of qualification in accordance with the requirements of the labor market and the society, and the need for a dual education system.

  4. Single system for quality assurance and trust in the qualification the individual possesses
Developing qualifications together with the business sector and acquiring qualifications through the dual education system means that the quality is being assured throughout the process and the trust in the qualification the individual possesses is promoted. 

Finally, I wish to emphasize that the economically developed countries – Austria, Germany, Switzerland or England – where there is functional dual education, have well developed and powerful National Qualifications Frameworks. We have that as well, but we need to work on greater flexibility of education and on establishment of a robust system of dual education. Alternatively, the function of the National Qualifications Framework would be pointless.
 

Natasha Janevska, M.A
Independent Advisor at the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia