The innovative orientation of the development of the economy requires the search for new efficient mechanisms for producing knowledge, creating conditions for the transformation of knowledge capital into practical skills and the development of human capital.
The formation of competitive citizens takes place through the effective interaction of the labor market, education and training. In many countries, including Kazakhstan, this goal is achieved through the introduction and use of the National Qualifications Framework, which ensures interaction between the sphere of labor and education, mutually interconnecting the four elements.
The first and fundamental element is the National Qualifications Framework and the sectoral framework for qualifications. They distribute homogeneous types of professions at the required levels of qualifications on the scale of the entire labor market and individual industries.
The second element is professional standards, that is, employers' expectations for knowledge and skills for various professions. In other words, this is the "technical demand" for personnel from the labor market.
Another element is educational standards and programs. Here the ball is already on the side of the education system, which ideally ensures the relevance of the content of education in accordance with professional standards.
And the last is the assessment and accompanying assignment or confirmation of the employee’s qualification.
What is the National Qualifications Framework?
The national framework for qualifications is a fundamental element of the National Qualifications System.
The national framework for qualifications is a structured description of the levels of qualifications recognized within the labor market. The national framework for qualifications of Kazakhstan consists of 8 levels of qualifications and a description of the general characteristics of professional activity.
Based on the National Qualifications Framework, with the participation of employers, the Sectoral Framework of Qualifications and professional standards are being developed, in which employers specify their requirements for the skills and qualifications of employees.
Can the education system be improved with the help of the National Qualifications Framework?
The national qualifications framework can, indeed, be used as a tool for improving the education and training system. By focusing training programs on the framework of qualifications and professional standards, which considers the requirements of employers, you can improve the relevance and quality of the qualifications that students receive.
All National qualifications frameworks are based on "results of study". In the National Framework of Qualifications of Kazakhstan, the results of study are divided into three categories: "knowledge", "skills", "personal and professional competencies". Whereas "personal and professional competencies" is displayed in the ability to act under the leadership, independently perform the work and lead the others.
Results of the study, as expected, is the level of knowledge that the trainee had obtained, his ability to understand and demonstrate it upon completion of the courses.
The results of the study will give us an idea of the qualification’s background. Thus, the qualification is determined by the fact that an employee should be able to show his proficiency and the knowledge, wheareas the formal indicators is the availability of a diploma.In most countries, including Kazakhstan, qualifications are traditionally obtained only through formal education and a diploma. For example, in Kazakhstan, the degree of "bachelor" or "master" is considered as a qualification.
As the study results are indicated in the educational programs and in the study process itself, that is when the interrelation between the labor market and the education system is established. So both the employer and the educational institution use unified and transparent "descriptors", in other words, those are definitions of different levels of qualifications.
International practice shows that in the context of the formation of the knowledge-based society, economically developed countries have upgraded their vocational education systems and implemented a transition to application of educational programs based on the study results and competencies.
What is the difference between the study results and competencies?
The study results are determined by work sphere, while in the educational space the results are expressed through competences that integrate knowledge, proficiency and skills. It is the study results, indeed, that allow you to determine the levels of qualifications and structure them into the form of a qualification framework.
What is being done in Kazakhstan in this direction?
Due to importance of this direction, in 2016, within the framework of the Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the project "Development of Work Skills and Stimulation of Workplaces" is being implemented. The institution that accomplishes the project is the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Within this project framework, measures are being taken to form the basis for the National Qualifications Framework, which includes the development of 550 professional standards, 360 educational programs based on professional standards and the development of an independent certification system.
In particular, within the framework of the project "Development of labor skills and stimulation of workplaces", it is planned to review best practices with a purpose of developing a systematic approach to conform the National Qualifications Framework with professional and higher education programs.
A review and evaluation of the existing mechanism for the development of educational programs and their compliance with the labor market requirements will be conducted. The mechanisms of quality assurance in world practice including Kazakhstan will also be studied.
As per results of this work, a methodology will be proposed for the development of educational programs based on professional standards and methods for calculating labor costs required to develop educational programs with regard to certain levels of education.
In addition, it was envisaged to arrange training of national experts in the methodology of developing educational programs based on professional standards and to form a pool of certified educational programs’ designers in Kazakhstan.
This work will be accomplished with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan together with the coordinating organizations: for technical and vocational education - NAO "Holding" Kasipkor ", for higher and postgraduate education - RSE PHC" Center for the Bologna Process and Academic Mobility ".
Updating the structure and content of educational programs in accordance with the demand in the labor market and international standards is considered as the priority areas of the development of the education system in Kazakhstan. This will ensure generation of highly skilled workforce to increase economy’s competitiveness, especially in the context of the third modernization program of Kazakhstan.