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TÜV Rheinland Academy_from professions_competencies

New Work: From profession to competence

If you’re going to remain competitive in the labor market, you have to develop your competencies. If you want to monetize your workforce, you have to be flexible and willing to learn. Hardly anyone works his whole life in the same profession. This applies to both companies and employees. In the USA, sometimes competencies are already more important than the vocational qualification once acquired. Is that the future?

The ever shorter half-life of once obtained knowledge has been further shortened with the advent of the computer, rationalization, and automation. Since the 1980s,  it has become increasingly clear that lifelong learning is essential in many occupations. The professional idea, which is based on having undergone a clearly defined education and which has since developed further through real on-the-job training, is becoming more and more defensive. Today, the profession is at best an entrance ticket to the foyer of professional life, which after a few years is hardly suitable as a ticket for the next levels of the career ladder.

New Work in the Age of Digitalization

In the developed economies of the West, further development of the professional idea can already be observed in the nineties. In the USA, labor market researchers and labor ministers such as Robert Reich already recognized in the first Clinton Administration since 1993 that the dependent middle class needed access to the labor market even without a university degree. Inspired by the theses of “New Work”, which the Austrian-American social philosopher Frithjof Bergman founded in the 1980s, employment and education programs were developed that no longer addressed the deficits of the rural unemployed, but rather the existing competence that needed to be developed. Starting from the thesis, which has been refuted today, that the job system is at its end, the freedom of action and independence of people beyond gainful employment must be promoted. After the New Work was discussed a dozen times up and down, the term is now experiencing a renaissance with digitalization, but with different signs. Again, the motive is to open access to the labor market to a detached “working class”. Unlike Bergman, however, it is not a question of the emancipation of the former industrial workers in the “Rust Belt”, as the Democrats call them “White Trash”. Rather, it is digitization and the shortage of skilled workers and the associated lack of digital skills in companies that have led to the emergence of new qualification programs in the USA.

TechHire relies on competencies beyond formal qualification

If you can do the job, you should get the job: Since 2015, the social enterprise TechHire has been expanding in the USA, operating over 200 training facilities in 72 municipalities in social partnership with 1,300 employers. The model is similar to a dual training program according to the German model. The experts use online entrance tests to identify competencies and interests. Discussions with potential employers follow this. After a few months of all-day training, the participants complete an internship in a company. A wide variety of local TechHire companies specialize in qualifications in technology industries. Specifically, they have improved matching between job seekers, employers, teachers, policy-makers and local training groups: the online tool “training finder“, developed by LinkedIn’s business network, links relevant information on competence profiles and income opportunities, skills required, training programs and vacancies for different job advertisements.

Thus even applicants who do not formally have any qualifications, but who have acquired competencies even in self-study, have a chance to specifically promote them in order to get them into jobs. Autodidacts, for example, who work on computers in their spare time also have a chance to get a job as a software tester with 40,000 dollars after a qualification. TechHire’s competence-oriented approach has already enabled companies to fill 4,000 vacancies that would otherwise remain vacant today.

Conclusion: Competence development creates a vocation

TechHire and its partners have thus managed in an unbureaucratic and, above all, intelligent way to make a contribution to reducing the shortage of skilled workers in companies and to imparting new individual perspectives to people by promoting competencies. A mission to which TÜV Rheinland Academy has committed itself, particularly in the field of technical professions. Digitalization is constantly creating new requirement profiles for which it is necessary to establish appropriate competence models that enable people and organizations to remain capable of action and to actively shape both the present and the future. Artificial intelligence, digitization and automation will create many new jobs that will have to be taken over by today’s “skilled workers”. The way there is competence development on the job, actively supported by companies that have recognized the value of lifelong learning. It is also important to lay the right foundations in the field of initial vocational training for young people and to start thinking about tomorrow’s requirements today. Application cases of TÜV Rheinland Academy, which as a partner supports governments in various countries worldwide in establishing competence development via the dual training system according to the German model, close the technical education gap between state schools and degrees and the requirements of the industry. In this way, people and companies are actively enabled to master the challenges of digital transformation. In individual cases, personnel certifications ensure that competencies are always up to date and ensure a uniform quality level of the employees in the company.

 

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International Career with Steel and Anti-Corrosion-Protection-Training in Poland

We encounter steel constructions everywhere. Steel is one of the most versatile building materials and enables wide-stretched, slender and transparent creations in an almost unlimited variety of shapes. Also the size of the object is practically endless. However, steel must be cared with diligence and regularly maintained to ensure its longevity. TÜV Rheinland has set up appropriate Anti-Corrosion-Training courses in response to the market requirements for corrosion protection in Poland. Anna Konewecka, Local Stream Manager at TÜV Rheinland Poland, gives an insight.

Building constructions such as houses, towers, bridges, but also cars are made of steel, on which in turn a lot of welding work is carried out. Also, steel structures are painted. But what many don’t know: Painting is used not only for aesthetic reasons, but also to protect the steel from corrosion. Anti-corrosion coatings are a necessity, not only because of normative or customer requirements, but also because they ensure the quality and safety of the use of constructions and building objects.

Insufficient quality of buildings and steel structures is almost synonymous with inadequate safety. The quality and safety of buildings, objects and structures depend not only on their performance, but also on correct design and material solutions and proper use. Quality also depends on the awareness and qualifications of the personnel. Given growing demands for standards in the construction industry and an increasing need for employee skills, particularly in the area of corrosion protection, TÜV Rheinland Poland took advantage of this opportunity and began expanding its corrosion protection training as early as 2012.

Lack of knowledge in steel factories

“We had recognized that workers in steel factories had previously lacked expertise in the field of corrosion protection. Whether painters, quality controllers or corrosion protection inspectors: the requirements placed on those involved vary depending on the activity. Customers need someone who knows what kind of paint to use for a particular steel structure, who knows how to use it and who can also test the paint finish,” explains Anna Konewecka, Local Stream Manager at TÜV Rheinland Poland. “Unfortunately, there was no qualification for quality control in the field of corrosion protection on the market. We have noticed that the Polish market is very interested in corrosion protection and the market needs are constant. So we’ve developed a training program that meets the needs of the market.”

The target group for the training includes all manufacturing companies active in industry and dealing with steel, including the automotive industry. The division trains around 100 quality controller of paint protective coatings every year since 2013. Corrosion protection training is one of the most sought-after courses offered by TÜV Rheinland Poland. “Our unique selling point is that we combine the training program with the accredited program for personnel certification according to ISO 17024, the standardized standard for personnel certification,” explains Anna Konewecka. This means that all corrosion protection controllers and inspectors qualified by TÜV Rheinland Academy are recognized throughout Europe – which is additional benefit to the participants. “Our qualification for Inspector of paint protective coatings, for example, is relevant for the worldwide known qualification “FROSIO Inspector”. We are the second accredited personnel certification body in Europe to offer this qualification level.”

Cooperation with companies and universities

The anti-corrosion training for quality controllers includes 30 hours, for inspectors it’s 72 hours and one day exam after each training. The examination is divided into a theoretical and a practical part. In the practical test, for example, the participants receive a sample of a paint finish and have to check the parameters and technical features, among other things.

TÜV Rheinland Poland does not only cooperate with the commercial market. “We also see an opportunity in cooperation with universities. One of our partners is the Silesian Technical University in Gliwice. We have been working together in various areas for 19 years,” says the Local Stream Manager. The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Silesian Technical University has decided to introduce a specialization for corrosion protection qualification. TÜV Rheinland promoted this specialization and was actively involved in the programme design. The first four students have already been successfully certified in the accredited TÜV Rheinland procedure.

 

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