Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsBEVERLEY OLIVER: A qualifications framework is a system that a country or a jurisdiction uses to explain what the major degrees mean in that country, what they're comprised of, how long they take to achieve usually, what levels of outcomes people can expect so that, if you have a bachelor or master degree for example from one part of the world, it can be translated for people in another part of the world. So it's, if you like, a little bit like an international driver's licence where we can look at the degree given in, say, France and know what that means in a place like, say, Australia, or the United States. Degrees that are picked up in international qualification frameworks are usually very large.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 secondsWe call them macro credentials because they're big, they take a lot of time, and they usually cost quite a bit of money. Now the world is telling us, the working world is telling us, that they're still very good signals. But the working world is looking for smaller signals as well. So for example, someone who actually has a bachelor's degree in a particular area will have learned a lot of skills maybe through experience in other areas where they don't hold an entire degree. So there is an interest and a hunger for smaller credentials, not necessarily qualifications in themselves, but that are markers or smaller signals that actually skills have been attained and things can be done by the bearer.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 secondsSo at Deakin University, we've designed some of these smaller credentials to be able to assess and warrant that the bearer has a skill at a higher level, which will stack up in fact to a larger macro credential or degree that aligns with one of those international qualifications frameworks. For many people studying around the world, particularly more mature and experienced people, it's very important that higher education institutions start from where the student is rather than presuming, us presuming, that you don't know things because, if you've been working, if you've been managing competing priorities, if you've been even raising a family, you've been acquiring skills that are not necessarily captured in a first degree or in any degree.

Skip to 2 minutes and 35 secondsSo with the professional practise credentials, what we want to do is assess and warrant the skills that you've acquired through life experience, through work experience, so we can actually start you in a degree where you need to start rather than where we think you might need to start at the very beginning. So our use of credentials is also to help the student make the right starting point in a bigger degree. That's why we've aligned them to the major macro credentials or degrees in the international qualifications frameworks.

Capability frameworks

It’s one thing to have problem-solving skills, but how do you know what level you’re operating at? In this step, we look at international qualifications frameworks and how these relate to levels of work.

International skills and qualifications frameworks determine what standards of employability skills are expected at roughly equivalent levels.

Aligning qualifications with levels of work

When it comes to the world of work, the real benefit of these frameworks is that a level of attainment achieved in one country (like Australia) can be compared to that of another country or region (such as the UK or Asia).

They’re also the basis for the criteria Deakin has developed for assessing what level of employability skills – such as problem solving - you may have in relation to what’s expected at different university award standards.

This means that even if you don’t have a university degree, you may be able to draw on work or life experiences to benchmark your level of expertise in problem solving against international qualifications.

This table shows a comparative alignment of levels of work (eg operational, functional and strategic), Deakin Professional Practice credentials and international qualifications frameworks.

Deakin Professional Practice credentials: comparative alignment of levels table image Select this table to open an accessible PDF version.

Image: © iStock

Qualifications and levels of work don’t always match

As we discovered when looking at the role of transferable skills in employability, employers are placing a growing emphasis not just on qualifications, but also on relevant skills and experience.

The reason for this is that the level of university attainment an individual may – or may not – have, doesn’t always match their workplace skills or experience.

For instance, you may hold a Masters degree in a specific field, but have little experience of working in teams. Conversely, you might have a lot of problem-solving experience and be operating at a Masters-aligned level, but hold no formal qualifications at all.

It’s also possible that any qualifications you hold also match your level of professional experience – but how do you prove this?

Whatever your situation, in the next few steps, we’ll look at ways to benchmark your own level of problem-solving skills by drawing on Deakin’s micro-credential professional practice criteria and applying these to a fictional case study.

Your task

Watch the video from Alfred Deakin Professor Beverley Oliver to learn more about qualifications frameworks, what they do and why they’re useful for benchmarking your own capabilities.

When you’re done, take a look at this Deakin Professional Practice Level Indicators guide and reflect on your current role and work experience.

Based on this, what level of capability most closely matches your experience?

  • If you already hold a qualification, does your level of qualification match your level in professional practice?
  • Do you operate equally at the levels of autonomy, influence and complexity described for that level? Or are you stronger in some areas than others?
  • What if you don’t hold a qualification? Can you still identify your level or work based on these indicators?

Discuss your and other learners’ assessments and the reasons for it in the comments.

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This video is from the free online course:

Career Credentials: Evidence Your Expertise in Problem Solving

Deakin University

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