Drs 255 skills in vocational assessment
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  • 1. DRS 255 SKILLS IN VOCATIONAL ASSESSMENT INCLUDING ECONOMIC, FUNCTIONAL AND SOCIAL ABILITIESVOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAININGVocational education (also known as vocational education and training or VET) is aneducation that prepares people for specific trades, crafts andcareers at various levels froma trade to a craft or a professional position in engineering, accountancy, nursing, medicine, andother healing arts,architecture, pharmacy, law etc. Craft vocations are usually based on manualor practical activities, traditionally non-academic, related to a specific trade, occupation,or vocation. It is sometimes referred to as technical education as the trainee directly developsexpertise in a particular group of techniques. In the UK some higher technician engineeringpositions that require 4-5 year apprenticeship require academic study to HNC / HND or higherCity and Guilds level.Vocational education may be classified as teaching procedural knowledge. This can becontrasted with declarative knowledge, as used in education in a usually broader scientific field,which might concentrate on theory and abstract conceptual knowledge, characteristic of tertiaryeducation. Vocational education can be at the secondary, post-secondary level, furthereducation level and can interact with the apprenticeship system. Increasingly, vocationaleducation can be recognized in terms of recognition of prior learning and partial academiccredit towards tertiary education (e.g., at auniversity) as credit; however, it is rarely considered inits own form to fall under the traditional definition of higher education.Vocational education isrelated to the age-old apprenticeship system of learning. Apprenticeships are designed for manylevels of work from manual trades to high knowledge work.However, as the labor market becomes more specialized and economies demand higher levels ofskill, governments and businesses are increasingly investing in the future of vocational educationthrough publicly funded training organizations and subsidized apprenticeship or traineeshipinitiatives for businesses. At the post-secondary level vocational education is typically providedby an institute of technology, university, or by a local community college.Vocational educationhas diversified over the 20th century and now exists in industries suchas retail, tourism, information technology, funeral services and cosmetics, as well as in thetraditional crafts and cottage industries.A vocational education teaches practical job training in ahands-on environment that is typically not in a classroom. Vocational school graduates have avariety of jobs, including mechanic, carpenter, mason, cake decorator and landscaper. Whilevocational programs vary by school, students usually leave a program with a specific set of skillsthey can apply to their future career. 1
  • 2. VOCATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATIONVocational assessment is defined as the global appraisal of an individuals work/trainingbackground, general functional capacities, and social/behavioral characteristics. It usuallyincludes an evaluation of medical factors, psychological makeup, educational background, socialbehaviors, attitudes, values, work skills and abilities (Chan et al., 1997). Vocational evaluation,on the other hand, is a specific process that involves the appraisal of a persons work relatedcharacteristics important for education and training to obtain and maintain employment. Itincludes a comprehensive review of specific work characteristics, including but not limited tooccupational interests, specific job skills, worker traits, general intelligence, temperaments,physical capacities, strength, range of motion, and other work-related functions and aptitudes(Chan et al., 1997). Pertaining to the specificity of vocation evaluation, there are differentdomains that are imperative in understanding the more global picture of vocational success forindividuals with disabilities.Such domains include: personal factors such as personality, interests, intelligence, cognitivecapacities, educational achievement, personal adjustment, social adjustment, interpersonal skills,and work-related factors such as work experience, vocational adjustment, vocational aptitudes,and work behaviors. Additionally, situational factors also play an important role in vocationalrehabilitation needs and employment outcomes. Such factors include medical, psychiatric,psychological, cultural, social, recreational, vocational, educational and environmental needs.Since much personal and work-related information needs to be gathered in order to set specificvocational goals and to provide the appropriate intervention, vocational evaluation is animportant and continuous process that are done throughout the whole vocational rehabilitationprocess. While some of the methods and processes described are labeled as "assessment", oftensuch methods are used as part of the information feeding process for the rehabilitationprofessions for interventions (e.g. recommendations to improve work environments, counselingindividuals with disabilities in choosing and adjusting to a job). Because of different levels ofseverity disabilities, a variety of assessment methods and processes are employed in order tocapture a holistic level of information pertaining to the individual being served.WORK SAMPLESThe use of work sample approach is often employed, especially for individuals with severephysical and/or cognitive disabilities. This is another standardized vocational testing often used.Smith (1991) defines work sample method as an assessment method to measure the particular jobskills by having the individuals demonstrate their competency in a situation that is parallel to thatat work under realistic and standardized conditions. Therefore, it is a measure of the aptitude ofan individual, i.e., the ability of an individual to learn a particular task or skill. The work samplemethods, unfortunately, may not have been a popular tool in contemporary rehabilitation invocational counseling because this process requires the purchase of specific work samples which 2
  • 3. could be expensive especially when one requires a wide range of work samples for specificsamples of different jobs, and frequent updating may not be feasible (Thomas, 1999). In addition,most traditional work samples tend to focus more on manual work tasks than service-relatedwork tasks. However, the use of work samples still has its value, especially its face validity, andclose proximity to a real job task (Lee et al., 2008).JOB ANALYSISJob analysis (JA) is another commonly employed assessment and vocational process in gatheringinformation and recommending work accommodation in vocational rehabilitation. The processof job analysis focuses on the description of the job but less on the workers characteristics.Rehabilitation professionals often are required to conduct an in depth interview with a personwho is familiar with the nature of the job, or who conducts an actual on-site analysis of the job.A detailed profile of the different essential job tasks required for a particular job is constructed.Examples include job skills, environments, working conditions (e.g., exposure to extremetemperatures, toxins), types of training and education needed (e.g., on-the-job training, specificvocational training, certificates), types, frequency and duration of certain physical activities (e.g.,lifting, carrying, sitting, standing, crouching, climbing, smelling, tasting, near vision), and levelsof strenuousness (e.g., sedentary, light, heavy). The purpose of a job analysis is to allow therehabilitation professional to be able to match the compatibility of the particular job to the client,and be able to recommend job modification and accommodations if needed (Weed & Field,2001).SITUATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND PROCESSAnother method of vocational evaluation or process often employed by rehabilitation specialistsis the situational assessment approach. Similar to work samples, situational assessment places anindividual with a disability in a simulated work condition and environment that resembles theactual job that the person will be place. This approach focuses on assessment and informationgathering on the general employability skills and adaptive work behaviors. This is preferable andconsidered the most appropriate for people with disabilities, especially those with severedisabilities and limited work histories. It usually requires the rehabilitation professional toconduct observation of the clients work behavior in the simulated situations, and it often takestwo or more weeks. Due to the length required for assessment, this method is usually most time-consuming and expensive.COMMUNITY-BASED ASSESSMENT AND PROCESSAn extension to the situational assessment approach is the community-based vocationalevaluation. This is analogous to the situation assessment approach described above, except it isconducted in vivo. This approach assesses in vivo both work personality and skills in acompetitive work environment through observation in real life situations. This approach allowsthe gathering and provision of tremendously useful and functional information, rather than onlyspecific skills, for both the worker as well as the employer. For instance, observing the clientperforming and interacting with others in a real job situation, allows the professional to identifyand develop the strength and effective coping skills of the client. Modification can be done on 3
  • 4. either the person and/or the environment upon identification of the problem. In addition, teachingcan often be done on site, e.g., teach individuals how to acquire social, political or psychologicalresources to improve their conditions. Therefore, other considerations such as dealing withunexpected workload from supervisor, busy phone calls in relation to the ability of the clientsand any potential impact on them.TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS ANALYSISTransferrable skills analysis (TSA) is another technique that is commonly used to evaluate theskills of an individual. This is probably most applicable to individuals who have an injury inwhich their pre-injury skills are compared to the post-injury skills level for job placement.Operationally, transferrable skills are defined as:"skills that can be used in other work (transferability)…the skills that can be used in other jobs,when the skilled and semi-skilled work activities you did in past work can be used to meet therequirements of skilled and semi-skilled work activities of other kinds of work. Transferability ismost probably and meaningful among jobs in which i. the same or less degree of skill is required ii. the same or similar tools and machines are used; and iii. the same or similar raw materials, products, processes, or services are involved" (Weed, & Field, p.102).The TSA process is usually used in situations in which the worker has skills that can betransferred to another position that result in a relatively quicker job placement and the return toself-sufficiency for the worker, as compared to a job placement that bears a minimal relationshipto existing skills of the worker.VOCATIONAL SKILLS AUDIT OR ASSESSMENTA vocational skills audit examines the skills that are present in an employee or a workforce andthe skills that are needed to successfully perform a job. This assessment helps point out areas ofstrength and needed development.SELF-ASSESSMENTA vocational skills self-audit helps you determine what skills and abilities you have acquired,where your skills are strongest and where you might need to focus your training, education orself-development. Many people perform a self-assessment of this type when they are consideringchanging careers, applying for a promotion or are on the job market.To perform a self-assessment, list each job you have held and the skills that were necessary toperform those jobs. Then rate yourself on each skill. Your assessment should give you a broadpicture of your areas of strength and the areas in which your skills are weaker. Use thisassessment to compare the skills you already possess with the skills necessary to perform thejobs youre applying for. 4
  • 5. ORGANIZATIONAL ASSESSMENTVocational skills audits may also be conducted by an organization to learn in which areas theiremployees are strong and highly skilled and in which areas they need to focus training or hiringresources. Some organizations conduct assessment internally, using a collaborative process inwhich employees assess themselves and their jobs while management also performs assessment.Other organizations hire external firms that specialize in skills assessment. Employees aresometimes asked to do self-assessment as part of their yearly review.Whether self-administered or administered by someone else, a vocational skills audit helpsemployees and management understand what skills are necessary to job performance, what areasemployees are highly skilled in and which areas are in need of development.PERFORMANCE-BASED MEASURES OF FUNCTIONAL SKILLS: USEFULNESS INCLINICAL TREATMENT STUDIESRecently, attention to the assessment and treatment of functional disability has increased notably.It is widely understood that impairments in everyday living skills, including independent livingskills, social functions, vocational functioning, and self-care, are present in people withschizophrenia. It has also become clear recently that assessment of these skills can posesubstantial challenges. These challenges include selection of meaningful short-term outcomemeasures and avoiding bias and reduced validity in the data. Self-report, direct observation andinformant reports of everyday disability all have certain advantages but appear to be inferior todirect assessment of skills with performance-based measures.This review outlines the issues associated with the assessment of functional skills and everydayfunctioning and provides a description of the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches. Weconclude that direct assessment of functional capacity has substantial advantages over othermeasures and may actually provide a more direct and valid estimate of functional disability thanperformance on the more distal neuropsychological assessment measures.Political will, vision and leadership at the highest level are necessary conditions for formulatingand implementing TVSD policies.Many reforms started with repositioning TVET within theframework of educational reform.In Ghana, for example, a Presidential Committee on Educationwas established in 2006, and a Council for TVET bill was passed by Parliament whichemphasized the objective of providing people with employable skills, as well as training drivenby industry needs and entrepreneurship. The function of the council is to co-ordinate technicaland vocational skills provision across the formal and informal arenas and to harmonize skill 5
  • 6. strategies across ministries. Senegal provides a similar example. The majority of Africancountries engaged in reform have formulated or are in the process of preparing a sectoralpolicy and an action plan for TVSD which summarize the objectives, and aligns the plan withavailable human and financialDespite the importance given to TVSD by many governments, the training system in Africa islargely underfinanced. Generally, the provision of technical and vocational skills and especiallyformal TVET is expensive, since facilities, material, equipment and maintenance costs are high.On average, only about 2 to 6 per cent ofeducational budgets are devoted to TVSD, and inmany countries, it is mainly channeled toward formal TVET. Limited public-sector budgets haveseriously constrained the ability of governments to provide adequate and stable funding to publicsector training institutions. In parallel, training budgets are accorded little priority in manyenterprises, resulting in under-training by firms.ADDRESSING THE SKILL NEEDS OF THE INFORMAL SECTORTraining those who participate in the informal sector should go hand-in-hand with otherinstruments, such as fiscal policies, provision of credit, and extension of social protection andlabour laws, to improve the performance of enterprises and the employability of workers. Theaim should be to transform what is often marginal, survival activities into decent work fullyintegrated into mainstream economic life. Prior learning and skills gained in the sector should bevalidated by certification systems which can help workers in the informal sector gain access tothe formal labour market.In view of the very large informal sector in Africa and its important role in the labour markets,the provision of training for workers in the informal sector should be recognized in the policyagenda. Yet in many countries, such as Mozambique, the ongoing pilot reform does not includetraining programmes for the informal sector. A major overhaul of the apprenticeship laws,policies and practices in Africa is required to support and improve informal apprenticeshipsystems. They badly need upgrading to ensure higher quality, more equal access, enhancedemployability and better returns to the public and private investment in training.According to the AgenceFrançaise de Développement’s field studies, some ongoing reforms areattempting to modernize the informal apprenticeship systems through strengthening theirinstitutional frameworks and building links with the formal TVET systems. These efforts aim atimproving the quality of training by offering skills upgrading for master craftspeople in formaltraining institutions (e.g. in Uganda, Niger, and Mali), and providing opportunities to test andcertify skills acquired on the job. Overall, many West African countries such as Benin, Togo,Senegal and Mali are restructuring technical and vocational training systems and incorporatingtraditional apprenticeships; they are developing dual apprenticeships systems, where the craftenterprises which take on apprentices share the responsibility for training with colleges. 6
  • 7. In parallel, some regulatory instruments have been developed, in order to implement the overallpolicy objectives and the specific arrangements for apprenticeship, such as the types ofapprenticeship contracts to be drawn up, and the rules governing vocational qualifications. Also,South Africa and Ethiopia are opening their TVSD systems to informal sector needs (see Box27). Morocco and Tunisia have programmes which focus on the introduction of apprenticeshipcontracts, setting remuneration levels, offering incentives to employers (in terms of exemptionsfor the payment of social security obligations), setting age requirements, and introducing dualtraining between the place of work and specialized training institutions.LESSONS LEARNED FROM TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL SKILLSDEVELOPMENT REFORMSTVSD in Africa operates under many constraints that limit its impact and further expansion. Thissober picture is not merely due to lack of resources but also to how available resources are beingused. Several African countries have missing/weak links at many levels: between nationaldevelopment policy and the role of TVSD; between skills needs in industry and educationalcurricula; between TVET institutions and universities; between formal training and firm-basedtraining or informal training. In some countries, the responsibility for TVSD is often split amongdifferent ministries and agencies often operating in isolation and not as part of a comprehensivesystem for human resources development. In turn, the lack of a coherent strategic approach to thesector results in fragmentation of efforts, and wasted resources, and thus makes it difficult forprivate actors and donors to assist adequately the development of technical skills.In the wave of public sector reforms many countries have decided to reshape the technical andvocational skill development system in order to make it more efficient and effective. The need tolink training to employment (either self or paid employment) is at the root of all the goodpractices and strategies observed. In some countries TVSD reforms have been underway longenough to identify some of the main lessons learned. The review of successful African countries’experiences suggests that TVSD strategies need to be informed by a clear vision, fully integratedinto development and poverty reduction strategies and action plans, and focused on sectors withpromising employment prospects. In particular, in the majority of African countries where theinformal sector is dominant, TVSD reforms should recognize and emphasize skills development,such as business management and entrepreneurial training. Successful implementation of thestrategy requires an enabling environment for monitoring, evaluation, funding, and regulation.Partnership with the private sector, employers and civil society is increasingly recognized to becrucial to secure additional resources to finance TVSD, ensure training relevance, and promotelifelong learning.THE RATIONALE FOR TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL SKILLS DEVELOPMENTAfrican countries are working towards improving the quality and skills levels of their labourforces. The increasing recognition that higher technical and vocational skills are crucial inenhancing competitiveness and contributing to social inclusion, decent employment, and poverty 7
  • 8. reduction has been a strong incentive for reform. The term technical and vocational skillsdevelopment (TVSD) refers to the acquisition of knowledge, practical competencies, knowhowand attitudes necessary to perform a certain trade or occupation in the labour market. For thescope of this report, TVSD corresponds to the broad UNESCO and ILO definition of technicaland vocational education and training (TVET).Competencies can be acquired either throughstructured training in public or private TVET schools and centres, or through practicalexperience on the job in enterprises (work-place training in the formal sector and informalapprenticeship), or both (the so-called “dual” training, involving a combination of work-placeand institution based training).It is generally recognized (and is key to the ILO Decent Work Agenda) that the development ofrelevant skills is an important instrument for improving productivity and working conditions, andthe promotion of decent work in the informal economy, which represents the major employer inAfrica. Education and skills can open doors to economically and socially rewarding jobs and canhelp the development of small informal-sector businesses, allow the re-insertion of displacedworkers and migrants, and support the transition from school to work for school drop-outs andgraduates. Ultimately, developing job-related competencies among the poor, the youth and thevulnerable is recognized as crucial to progress in reducing poverty.The development of job-related skills is, therefore, not only part of the countries’ humanresource strategies but also of their economic-growth and poverty-reduction strategies. Theinclusion of a skills-development component in country poverty reduction strategy papers(PRSPs) and national development plans is, thus, becoming more common. South Africa, forexample, has put the development of skills at the centre of the new Country DevelopmentStrategy (Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative-AsgiSA), which aims at halving poverty andunemployment by 2014.Generally, investing in knowledge and skills is seen by many governments as the cornerstone ofdeveloping an employable and globally competitive work force. A skilled and knowledgeablework force improves the investment climate because skilled workers create an attractiveeconomic environment for investors. The returns to increasing investments in skills developmenttend to be high in rapidly growing economies, and can be low or non-existent in situationscharacterized by weak growth and poor governance. Among the most critical supporting factorsof better skills utilization will be the macroeconomic reforms necessary to promote growth, andthus expand the opportunities for business development and employment. Strategies to promotenational growth should emphasize skills development for the sectors with the most promisingemployment prospects if they are to have a maximum impact.Important reforms to promote vocational and technical skills have been initiated both in theformal and informal sectors in a number of countries reflecting a more integrated approach to 8
  • 9. education, training and employment. A renewed emphasis on skills development has also beenechoed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) 2007 High Level Panel which hasrecommended skills development as a critical pillar of the Bank’s support to African countries inthe 21st Century.Country reviews in this edition of the Economic Outlook systems in Africa remain influenced bymultiple constraints that limit their expansion and impact. Many programmes are not adapted tothe needs of the economy and the responsibility for training is fragmented among differentagencies. Experiments and TVSD reforms in Africa generally remain small-scale. The challengeis now to scale-up on the basis of successful pilot programmes. TVSD reform strategies withsustainable financing are rare, the stakeholders are not always prepared to play their role andsuffer from limited capacity. In addition, the number of enterprises capable of offering work-place training opportunities is limited, while many training institutions have poor deliverycapacity and commonly lack funding. In turn, training programmes do not produce skilledgraduates because training is of poor quality and the equipment obsolete.Many youths cannot access formal TVET, and few countries have training policies whichemphasize skills development in the informal sector. Other obstacles include the low prestige offormal TVET in the eyes of the general public and parents who consider it to be an optionsuitable only for pupils who perform poorly in general education. 9