Is all learning ?NQF-able??
Friday, October 7, 2005 - 2:00am
No. Not all learning outcomes can be captured, or should be captured, in national standards that are registered on the NQF and are quality assured by an ETQA.
The following are a number of examples of learning that is not "NQF-able?:
Organisational change interventions are essential in today's rapidly changing and increasingly complex work environment and they will generally include some formal training. However, the main value of programmes such as 'Change leadership' and 'New economy leadership and competitiveness' are that they stimulate personal reflection, group engagement and the generation of unique strategies on how organisations should respond to the challenges raised during the programmes. The fact that such programmes generally result in the development of less tangible, personal, interpersonal and intergroup competence does not make them irrelevant.
There are many valuable experiential learning interventions, such as diversity and HIV/AIDS-awareness programmes, which also do not fit neatly into unit standards. Such interventions may include some formal training, but it is more difficult to capture accurately all the outcomes that the participants will achieve. It is also impossible to predict with certainty that all participants will consistently achieve outcomes such as developing awareness of conflicting values, challenging own preconceived ideas and changing their paradigms. Some participants may leave the programme with their preconceived ideas neatly intact without having learnt anything.
Company-specific programmes, such as the mentoring of new employees, on-the-job coaching and in-house development programmes dealing with new systems, are essential development tools, but they are generally not designed to achieve outcomes that are nationally registered in unit standards.
Action learning is a valuable learning tool that enables groups to develop creative solutions to critical problems that their organisation is grappling with. The outcomes of such programmes cannot be predicted by the facilitator, and they definitely cannot be specified in a registered unit standard.
Another important point is that not all participants in a learning programme want to be assessed, or are in fact interested in achieving credits on the NQF. For example, if Trevor Manual and his senior managers attend a two-day programme on global trends, they are unlikely to want a formal assessment so as to gain a few NQF credits. Instead, they would see the programme as a valuable learning experience that will have a significant impact on the way they manage the finances of our country.
Finally, today's competitive work environment demands learning interventions that address previously unforeseen challenges. It is unlikely that there will be NQF-aligned and accredited programmes to address these needs. The problem is that it takes a year or more for a unit standard to be registered, and another few months for the training provider to be accredited in respect of these standards. The reality is that, by the time the training provider is accredited and ready to offer the NQF-aligned programme, the need will probably already have changed. Furthermore, what makes organisations competitive cannot always be clearly specified in unit standards. Companies need to realise that much of the learning that will enable them to attain a competitive edge does not fit neatly into the ETQA accreditation system.
In most of the examples cited above, it would be possible to describe some outcomes for the programmes, but these will often be too broad to constitute outcomes that should be registered on the NQF.