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Generic Competences and Vocational Education Training in the Social Care Sector


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Presentation given by Koen Hermans, SOC KULeuven, Belgium at a FEANTSA Conference on "Quality in Social Services from the Perspective of Services Working with Homeless People", Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, 2011

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Generic Competences and Vocational Education Training in the Social Care Sector

  1. 1. Generic competences and vocational education and training in the socialcare sectorProf. Dr. Koen HermansLUCAS Centre for Care research and Consultancy KU LeuvenCurrent societal and policy changes cause new social risks and new vulnerable groups. Thesechanges demand new skills and competences of frontline workers in the social and healthservices. This study, which was commissioned by Cedefop, analyses the consequences ofthese changes in terms of needed skills and competences of frontline workers andmanagement in the social care sector. Innovative VET programs which fill the gap betweenthe current and needed competencies are described and analysed. The identification of genericcompetencies is an efficient way to draw relevant conclusions on the most pregnant trainingneeds in the social care sector.1 Generic competences of frontline staff and managementThe first phase of the study consists of a literature review to gather scientific evidence ongeneric competences on the one hand and focus groups in five Member States on the otherhand. The results of the focus groups and the literature review are compared and discussedwith the project partners and during a hearing with relevant stakeholders. This results in a listof six generic competences which are needed to face the current societal and policy changesand to make social services more effective for the most vulnerable groups in society:- Empowerment: o Recognition of and respect for individual rights and human dignity o To enhance and to stimulate self-realization, self-determination and personal mastery over one’s own life o To ensure the equal enjoyment of all human rights without discrimination o To involve service users in decision making- Brokerage skills o To assist service users to identify, access and benefit from relevant community services in different life domains o To assist service users to develop a natural support system consisting of friends and family o To work with the local community to create an inclusive and accepting environment in which everyone can participate
  2. 2. - Multicultural diversity : o To respect different cultures and to be sensitive for cultural differences o To adapt interventions to the different cultures and to search for ethno-sensitive interventions- Transdisciplinary teamwork: o The team members share roles systematically across discipline boundaries. o Professionals from different disciplines teach, learn, and work together to accomplish a common set of intervention goals- Knowledge management skills: o To transfer theoretical knowledge into practice and to transfer knowledge to other social services and social care sectors o To integrate new technological developments into social services- Leadership: o To create an organisational culture based on a central vision and key values o Entrepreneurship o change management2 Innovative vocational education and trainingIn the five Member States, good VET programs on generic competencies are gathered. In thisstudy, VET is broadly defined. As a consequence, we see large differences in terms ofduration, learning outcomes, didactic approach, certification and accreditation. The level ofdevelopment of the social care sector is an important explanation of the extent of coverageand content of VET programs.Based on the good practices, this study highlights five drivers of change: - The involvement of service users in VET. - VET programs organized at the European level - The cooperation with research institutions - European grants as drivers for change. - The combination of different learning methodsThis study also analyses the quality assurance systems of these VET programs. To guaranteethe quality of VET, at least five quality measures are necessary: - Involvement of stakeholders in the different phases of the quality cycle - Investment in flexible programs which make a more tailor-made approach possible - Assessment of the effects of the VET on the trainees, the organisation and on the quality of care (goal attainment)
  3. 3. - Cooperation with the university or other knowledge centres to link the VET with research and development - Assessment of the satisfaction, learning processes and the (objective) learning outcomes of the trainees3 Policy recommendationsThe seven main policy recommendations of this study are: 1. Invest in VET systems as a response to growing shortages of social care workers 2. Adapt VET systems in social care to the culture and character of the social care sector in each country 3. Stimulate partnerships with research institutions, employers, unions, service users and voluntary service providers 4. Stimulate research on the effects of VET on care and outcomes in services and society 5. Explore the possibility of creating more VET programs on the European level 6. Support the development of indicators and systems 7. Develop the links between the generic competencies and the European Qualification Framework