Nowadays, the labour market requires entrepreneurs to seek an ever increasing number of qualified employees. The Integrated Qualifications System (IQS) has been designed to satisfy the needs resulting from the changes on the market and in the economy. The role of the system is to systematize the qualifications operative in Poland, i.e. skills, knowledge and social competence, and to facilitate their assessment for individuals seeking employment.
We learn throughout our whole lives
Our qualifications are more than just diplomas and schools certificates we have been awarded. We learn new skills throughout our whole life through work and everyday activities. Many people improve their qualifications through various courses. The current-day labour market requires us to be fast learners. It is increasingly often the case that one may learn about somebody, who decided to move to another line of business for financial gains or because the new job was connected with their passion or hobbies. Consequently, such individuals make an effort to learn new skills either by themselves or through various courses, such as increasingly popular on-line courses in programming languages or computer graphic design. But how can we prove our competence to a potential employer without a certificate issued by a reputable university or another institution? Similarly, how can an employer be sure that a course completed outside of the education system credibly attests to the skills of the candidate?
The Integrated Qualifications System has been designed as a solution which meets the expectations of both employees and employers. With the IQS, it will be possible to obtain a confirmation of what we can do and our competence will be supported by a credible professional certificate. How does it work in practice? The IQS constitutes a part of the National Qualifications System established by virtue of the relevant law. Therefore, the credibility of the certificates attesting to the qualifications incorporated into the system is, in a way, guaranteed by the State. How does the system deal with new forms of competence which emerge as new professions come into existence? The system is future-proof in this respect, as it enables adding new professional qualifications to the IQS. Incorporation of qualifications into the system is preceded with a special procedure, which may take over 4 months to complete. Community consultations are an important part of the said procedure. This way the System remains relevant to the market reality.
Levels of qualifications and validation
First, the competent minister, supported by a team of experts, has to evaluate the application in terms of usability and innovative character of the new qualification and in terms of selection of the validation method (i.e. the method to be applied in order to check if the individual interested in having their qualifications acknowledged has particular competences). The next stage, following a positive evaluation of the application, is the analysis of the application by the Stakeholders Board. Only once a positive opinion has been given, shall the Minister have the right to assign a Polish Qualifications Framework level to a given qualification, which is either a full or a partial qualification. There are eight levels of full qualifications. Each one corresponds to a different scope of knowledge, skills and required competences. For instance, the first level attests to graduation from a 6-grade primary school, a 1st degree music school and a 1st degree, 6-grade, general education music school. The second level attests to graduation form a junior high school or an 8-grade primary school. The third level is awarded following the attainment of a diploma confirming professional qualifications: following graduation from a basic vocational school, following graduation from a 1st degree trade-specific school, following the passing of exams confirming qualifications in a given profession or following the meeting of the conditions referred to in the act on the education system. The following levels are awarded, correspondingly, to: individuals with a general certificate of secondary education, vocational titles, diplomas of graduation from teacher-training colleges and colleges for social service personnel, a BA degree, an MA/MS degree and a PhD degree. Partial qualifications are awarded in numerous other circumstances. Examples include the following: the attainment of an occupational title, a master craftsman’s certificate, graduation form postgraduate studies, graduation from other forms of education offered by higher education institutions, scientific institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences and other research institutes.
What are the benefits of the Integrated Qualifications System?
Building professional and competent teams of employees is vital for each respectable company and often translates into its success. The IQS is there to facilitate the acquisition of new skills and validation of competence of employees with relevant documents. A detailed description of each qualification provides employers with clear information on the skills of a given employee. The entrepreneur knows exactly what can be expected of the candidate and what they can contribute to the company. As result, mistakes in the course of the recruitment process can be avoided and a more competent team of employees can be built, which directly translates into competitive edge. The IQS may be extremely useful for individuals seeking employment in a new line of business. The system improves the changes for employment in the case of individuals who wish to return to their work, e.g. for women after their maternity leave who have completed additional vocational courses. By the same token, the IQS creates favourable conditions for the development of companies seeking qualified personnel.