Occupational Standards and Skill Testing (OSSTC - Oman)
Occupational Standards and Skill Testing in Oman
Field of Research:
01.05.2006–31.12.2010, 56 months
Sultanate of Oman
Rainer Bremer, Thomas Scheib, Matthias Becker, Bob Mahlmann, Marc Schütte
In “Vision 2020” the Sultanate of Oman has defined the scenario for advancing the country's human resource development and to establish an effective training and labour market policy in line with the actual needs of the economy. This requires the development of state-of-the-art occupational standards and effective monitoring instruments for the intake of foreign workers. The project is owned by the Ministry of Manpower and handled via a contract with GTZ-IS. The core of the contract is to establish a “Center for the development of Occupational Standards and Skill Testing” (OSSTC). This centre is expected to provide substantial support for improving the quality and efficiency of training and the capability of monitoring the intake of foreign workers. The definition of occupational standards is expected to serve as a platform for the development of effective curricula as well as for the design of testing packages which will secure reliable skills testing for foreign workers and for nationals seeking certification for their qualifications.
The fact that neither a vocational education and training (VET) system nor a VET institution has been established not only calls for conceptual work with the objective of an implementation. Moreover the orientation of a future VET system should be worked out with the aid of research methods. Within the framework of Scientific Guidance, the ITB will take over the following research tasks:
- the carrying through of sector studies in order to identify the need for qualification and the emphases of qualification,
- the carrying through of work process analyses as a basis for the further shaping of occupational profiles and the definition of intelligent standards,
- the development of conceptual proposals for the shaping of a VET system and for the establishment of a “Center” (OSSTC) for institutional support,
- the development of a teacher training programme and support for its implementation and
- the drafting of a design for testing and its implementation.
The ITB is carrying through the work in cooperation with scientists and researchers of the University of Hamburg, the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, the Technical University of Berlin, the University of Dresden, the University of Melbourne (Australia) and experts from different sectors and countries.
Sector analyses: They serve as a general access to the structures of well selected sectors and the dissemination of vocational educational scientific case studies and work process studies. As an independent research instrument they aim at the access of (skilled) work, technology and vocational education and training/qualification in a sector. Work processes in an occupational context play a major role. This is where sector analyses come close to ethnomethodology (studies of work) which was established as an autonomous sociological research approach in the 1970ies. This approach concentrates on issues such as “according to which rules and processes the day-to-day work processes are taking place in occupational contexts”. Although this is not yet the objective of sector analyses it becomes relevant for more extensive vocational educational scientific studies. An ideal overlap can be stated with regard to the discussion of the research field of “work”. The “studies of work”, however, comprise everything adequate for the coping with work tasks. As stated in the printing, this makes the generalisation of statements extremely difficult. Due to this insight, sector analyses start on a higher level in order to be able to place deeper surveys into the work of world in a well measured amount.
Work process analyses: Work process analyses oriented towards vocational educational sciences comprise three objectives. They should help (1) to identify the competencies for the coping and shaping of occupational work tasks, (2) to access the most important coherences for competency development and (3) to determine the work process knowledge for the shaping of business and work processes.
With their three categories of objectives, i.e. competency, competency development and work process knowledge, these objectives hint at competing principles for the determination of the contents of curricula. Reetz and Seyd presume three different curriculum structures and approaches (science principle, personality principle and situation principle; cf. Reetz/Seyd 1983, 1995) and predicted well in advance of the introduction of learning fields an increasing importance of the principle of personality in the vocational educational practice and a continuous dominance of the principle of science on the macro-level with its specialized scientific structures.
The scope of work of the OSSTC for supporting VET encompasses the following four are
- The development of occupational standards for sixty training occupations. After defining format and procedure for the development of the standards a prioritized plan of action outlines the further progress in this area.
- The format of developing occupational standards will entail the definition of core competencies. These competencies will be the basis for verifying qualifications through skill testing. Skill testing packages will be provided for foreign workers and for nationals.
- In the process of establishing OSSTC the staff of the centre has to be trained in all procedures encompassing the complete scope of work. Training also has to be provided to junior-professionals who do not yet have the qualification to work with the products of the centre.
A system for monitoring and evaluation will be established at the OSSTC. It will encompass all activities of the centre and it will reach beyond it into the provision of technical education and vocational training. This approach will be combined with knowledge management and the promotion of research and R&D-related activities at the centre.
Beyond the Sultanate's national interest in the advancement of the project a similar situation regarding training and foreign labour policy is characteristic for most other GCC countries. Therefore, a close cooperation within the GCC section for technical education and vocational training is in process. The development of occupational standards through a work-process-analysis is expected to become a central point of this cooperation.