As a result of the discussion held during the February 1998 meeting in Rome, this third German report of the Certification project continues the route commenced with the second report intensifying the analysis by means of a detailed examination of the cartification practices, at the same time, extending in to three more countries. This is the reason why the German experience, inspite of omitting three cases, still covers a wider range of practice and occupies a larger space in this report than all other countries together.
Hitherto, the most important result of our discussion during the various meetings as well as from the findings of the different case reports was.
- that the different countries represented in the project have not only very different continuing training and education system
- but, partly due to these differences, also show very different systems of pursuing quality in continuing training and education and
- hence, very different routes towards the certification of the quality achieved.
We came to the conclusion that if we wanted to make them comparable we had to refer them to a framework of quality issues common to all partners of the Certification project. Thus, we thought, it would be possible to examine which of the different systems of quality assurance in existence covered
- which concept of quality and, hence,
- which aspects of quality.
In order to be able to identify what was finally certified to be quality in CVT.
Therefore, we decided to define a reference framework of quality issues which was supposed to cover all concepts and aspects of quality concerning continuing vocational training. It includes, as it is, a fundamental decision to take the viewpoint of the training provider, not a customer's resp. Trainee's standpoint and not a trainer's perspective. Moreover, this reference framework does not discuss the purpose of the certification:
- Is certification sought in order to show a label face to the market in order to gain competitive advantage? or
- Is certification just a culminating peak of a meaningful improvement process?
This includes that a decision for any of the different quality assurance systems may have very different backgrounds and context and may not be comparable.
Basically, there are three possible concepts of quality of CVT:
- the quality of the contents of training as compared to the needs defined by the two immediate customers of cvt:
a) a company or a labour market institution with, by whatever procedure, defined need and requirements and/or
b) teh person to be trained, i.e. the individual trainee;
- the quality of the development, delivery and transfer of training understood as a complex learning process; and
- the quality of the training provider as a social and economic organisation, i.e. a company of whatever legal status.
In accordance with these concepts of quality in CVT, quality could equally be understood as a succession of training successes, objectives of the CVT performance, performance being meansured in terms of:
- participation success conceived as trainees'satisfaction concerning the training and its conditions during and/or after participating in a course;
- examination success, i.e. passed/not passed, marks or able to do what was learnt (competence);
- labour market success, ultimately to be understood as job placement; and
- practical success understood as enhanced professional competence and/or economic success.
The problem of this particular success record is that economic success of the training provider is not considered.
The previous report which was restricted to the different quality certification systems on the German market, gave a first outline of the most relevant existing forms of quality assurance and their examination by referring them to our framework. In a first analytical step, the various quality assurance methods were compared with our reference framework looking at which of the quality issues were covered. The present report covers the second analytical step whose objective it is to find out in detail with which aspects and sorts of questions the different quality assurance methods cover the quality issues of our reference framework. During the Rome meeting from February 1998 we decided to extend this approach, as one strand of the project, to all countries. Hence, most of the materials gathered from the German scene as well as those from France, Italy and the United Kingdom, have been analysed in this perspective. The Spanish project partner did not furnish any material.