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This article was published 16/5/2015 (1786 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Manitoba government recently introduced legislation that would add occupational certification to many industries.
Although details are scant, it's suggested the legislation would create better training and skills development.
The training would be done by accredited providers and include classroom and workplace training. This strategy has proven successful in many of the trades as well as university internships.
Certification standards and a competency-based training model will be developed by industry-led committees, and training agents/schools would also have to be accredited.
This is a move in the right direction as competency mapping is valuable both for employers and for students entering the working world. The road map helps people understand what is needed to succeed and what occupational skills are required at each level of expertise. Certification and accreditation are also recognized signs of competency.
It's interesting how accreditation and professionalization of many occupations have changed over the years. I recall developing a training program designed for volunteer classroom assistants. Frankly, I was angry to learn disabled children were removed from the classroom to work with an untrained volunteer while the trained professional taught the remaining children who didn't need special attention. Today, although the credentials are not legislated, most school divisions seek candidates with the special certification offered at the universities and community colleges.
I have also been involved in the growth and professionalization of human resource management. Historically, in 1947 following the Second World War, a certificate program was developed at the University of Manitoba to train returning veterans about human resources issues. Other than that, there were no requirements and therefore companies with 400 to 500 employees would typically be served only by a payroll clerk.
Today, the profession has grown to such an extent there is a national body of knowledge, a code of ethics, a professional designation (CHRP) granted by a professional association and several specialist university and college programs. Candidates must pass a national examination, an experience requirement and engage in ongoing professional development before they get the designation. It has become a coveted goal for human resources professionals and is required by most employers.
Several occupations in Manitoba and Canada are also legislated as self-regulated. This means an occupational group is given the authority to govern and manage how its members are trained and certified. Some of the legislated occupations include lawyers, engineers, architects, physicians, nurses, midwives and veterinarians, but not teachers and/or human resources professionals.
There are a number of benefits to self-regulation, including:
-- It gives an occupation professional status.
-- A standardized set of skills/competencies is created that serves as the framework for all training, assessment and accreditation.
-- Standardized educational programming facilitates consistency of training employers and employees can rely on.
-- Employers will have more confidence in a validated knowledge base their candidates may have taken; it gives an employer a stamp of approval.
-- The reputation of the occupation itself will increase because it would be limited to those who have become accredited.
-- A standardized and approved code of practice will create consistency across an occupation.
-- Individuals graduating with a certificate and becoming accredited by the self-regulating body would be understood to demonstrate higher quality skills and knowledge.
-- The self-regulating body would set the standards for who is eligible to enter the profession, to continue practising in the profession and for when and how members are removed from the profession.
-- A complaints and discipline system enables the public to voice concerns about services provided as well as a process to investigate complaints.
Typically, in exchange for being designated a professional status, regulatory bodies are expected to set rules that protect the public from incompetent and unethical members. As well, all decisions regarding their organizational activities are expected to reflect this public interest.
Government also receives benefits. Self-regulation puts the day-to-day management of a profession into the hands of industry experts. At the same time, processes are put in place to protect the public. Finally, self-regulation also transfers the cost of operating a profession from government to an independent occupational group.
Although the recent move to legislate the training and educational requirements of specific occupations does not create self-regulation per se, in my view, it is a step in the right direction. Students want to be assured their training will be recognized and respected. Employers want assurance that training is of high quality and can provide their company with skilled candidates. Private training agencies/schools, universities and colleges want their programs to be recognized for quality. It is the only way they can attract students and revenue.
Education has undergone such change over the past 30 years. Not long ago, professors and college presidents denounced the value of Internet-based distance education. Today, with the proliferation of distance-education schools, adult students are reaching far and wide to enroll in programs that best suit their needs. Most of our own universities and colleges are now gaining substantial revenue from this line of business.
I am happy to see educational institutions recognizing the value of life-work experience. I am certain the credit for life-work experience assessment has helped adults to upgrade their level of education, which helps overall company productivity. Thankfully, we are seeing more recognition and acceptance that a combination of hands-on workplace and classroom learning provides stronger, more confident students and has a valuable place in developing a skilled workforce.
The fundamental strength of Canada's labour market is the skills our workers bring to each employer. Thus, I see the move to legislated certification and accreditation of additional trades as an excellent strategy. As different industries become more complex and require expert direction, we will begin to see a growth in self-regulatory bodies.
In my view, it is the best means of enabling the experts to govern their own profession while allowing a government to protect the public without increasing costs.
Barbara J. Bowes is president of Legacy Bowes Group and is president of Career Partners International, Manitoba. She is also a radio host, author and professional speaker. She can be reached at email@example.com.