Title APL-Bud Towards a Qualified Construction Workforce for Poland
Project Number 2008-1-PL1-LEO05-02072
Project Type Transfer of Innovation
The Polish construction industry is suffering shortage of skilled manpower resulting from a massive outflow after EU accession and strong growth in home demand. This still needs returning workers and immigrant construction workers (whose competence needs certifying).
The prime aim of the project was “to improve the transparency and recognition of competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning”.
The project helped Poland to prepare a system for the recognition of prior learning that can be adopted by other countries and other sectors.
In year 2010 we have finalised piloting tests for the construction workers wanting to obtain certificates for roofer, bricklayer and fitter in most of the partner countries. The report on our findings and barriers of APL was presented at the conference in September 2010 in Brussels. See our website for more information www.apl-bud.eu
APL-Bud has set up and pilot practical accreditation of prior learning (APL) systems (involving: self-assessment, advice & guidance, assessment centre or accelerated portfolio development) certifying the competences:
1. of Polish construction workers returning after working outside Poland.
2. gained by Polish construction workers through on-job experience in Poland.
3. of foreign construction workers working or intending to work in Poland.
APL-Bud brought together a very broad and strong partnership: 5 Polish organisations representing employers and workers (led by Budowlani, the foremost construction trades union) and from 7 other countries to maximise the expertise and impact. The project aimed to:
• Transfer APL best practice and experience to construction workers in Poland.
• Promote an internationally recognised qualified workforce in the Polish construction industry.
• Improve health, safety and efficiency of the Polish construction industry.
• Improve the supply of skilled labour to the Polish construction industry.
APL-Bud has made it possible to move towards a qualified workforce: enabling construction workers to certify the skills they have acquired through their work, irrespective of how or where the competence was gained. This has made it easier for construction workers to seek work (they will have certification to prove their competence), and easier for employers to recruit competent labour. In the UK the major construction employers have tackled unacceptable safety standards by making it compulsory to have a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on their sites. CSCS cards all require passing a site safety test as well as demonstrating competence in the job role, more than 1.1M cards have been issued.
APL is new in most countries, but there is some useful experience to draw upon - ECOTEC Inventory (2007) http://www.ecotec.com/europeaninventory/2007.html There is no national system for APL in Poland although “some voivodship labour offices evaluate vocational and experience gained in non-formal contexts”. Otherwise most of the emphasis is on providing examinations that equate to qualifications gained in schools. This is far short of competence-based certification of individual skills for mid-career construction workers. However “the ‘Strategy for Development of Education 2007-2013’ underlines the necessity of creating a system for recognising and validating competencies acquired outside of the formal school system”. There have been several APL projects with Polish partners, but none appears to have developed an APL system that has been widely taken up, and certainly none relates to the construction industry.
APL-Bud aims were:
• To transfer European best practice and experience related to the accreditation of prior learning for construction workers in Poland. [LLL General Objective 1 and Operational Objectives 3 and 4 and National Priority 1] by reviewing APL best practice and creating a set of case studies, and by setting up a working system that can be used by construction workers both in Poland and outside.
• To promote an internationally recognised qualified workforce in the Polish construction industry. [LLL General Objective 3 and National Priority 1] by creating the systems by which Polish construction workers can evidence their profile of competence. The strength of the international partnership will ensure that the certification is recognised in the principal countries of Europe, and widely copied by other countries as they develop their own systems.
• To improve the labour market, safety and efficiency of the Polish construction industry. The financial benefits to employers and the unbiased recognition of each individual’s capability have already made certification of competence near universal in the UK construction sector. This is particularly significant with such a large component of migrant workers. The APL-Bud partnership brings together the Polish sector’s social partners in a powerful consensus for mutual benefit. APL-Bud will create a factual record of competence in a format that is clear to all Europe (a ‘zone of mutual trust’), and make it straight-forward to achieve and reliable. This will enable an individual worker’s capability to be objectively compared in the labour market, without discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation [LLL Horizontal Issue 3]. An employer can select the right person for the job and train for the skills that are needed, increasing efficiencyand flexibility. It is also easier for an employer to use its Polish workforce on projects outside Poland. The worker is not tied to a single employer because their capability can be recognised by all.
• To improve the supply of skilled labour to the Polish construction industry. [LLL General Objective 3] by making it easier for Polish construction workers to have their skills recognised (whether gained informally in Poland or abroad), promoting the return of Poles from abroad with their new skills, and enabling migrant workers to offer their proven skills to the Polish labour market.
APL-Bud has the primary objective to develop and pilot practical mechanisms for certifying the competences for 3 target groups [LLL General Objective 1 and Operational Objectives 3 and 4]:
1. of Polish construction workers returning after working outside Poland.
2. gained by Polish construction workers through on-job experience in Poland but not formally certified.
3. foreign construction workers working or intending to work in Poland.
APL-Bud has developed a systems and processes for APL [LLL General Objective 2 and Operational Objectives 3 and 4], drawing on international best practice, test them on pilots and move towards institutionalising them [LLL General Objective 1 and Operational Objectives 3 and 4]. It has developed APL assessor training [LLL General Objective 1] which can be rolled out more widely after the project [LLL Operational Objective 3]. The partnership has been selected not only to share best practice but also to promote roll out to other countries [LLL Operational Objective 3].
APL-Bud’s success has been monitored by the External Evaluator, but we anticipate that measures will include the extent to which:
• Ideas and outcomes are shared between the partnership and adopted in Poland and outside.
• APL-Bud systems and processes are based on European norms (like EQF, learning outcomes) and fit within the emerging EuroPass and Copenhagen VET frameworks.
• APL-Bud systems and processes are practical and affordable for construction workers in poor countries and for small employers as well as large international ones.
• A zone of mutual trust (in the quality of assessment and the resulting certification) can be created between partner countries (and beyond)
Recognition, transparency, certification
description of new occupation profiles
program or curricula
transparency and certification
There is no APL system yet in Poland, although many of the legal and institutional foundations have recently been put in place. Elsewhere also, working APL systems are few and limited. APL-Bud is innovative in setting up a working APL system for construction that includes assessment outside Poland, and which certifies professional competence (not just knowledge or equivalence to school exams).
The certification of migrant labour is a priority for the Polish construction industry, and for other countries. The strength of our Polish partners and the powerful international partnership are clear evidence of this.
APL has been identified as a European Commission priority, enshrined in the Education & Training 2010 objectives and the Lisbon goals. The APL Principles and Guidelines provide a European Framework within which to develop national and sector systems. The EQF, with its emphasis on learning outcomes and national commitments to implementation by 2010, provides an urgency to this development.
The APL Assessor training developed by the Romanian construction sector has been particularly valuable. There are 2 approaches to assessment of construction APL: assessment centres (the Flemish experience is foremost) or work-based portfolios (in which the UK excels); other options may arise during Activity 3. APL-Bud will share experience of these approaches amongst all the partners. In particular IFCOS has been a channel bringing the world-wide membership’s expertise in competence-based construction systems, and disseminating APL-Bud’s innovative outcomes to IFCOS members.
The time is therefore ripe for a project to lead the move from conceptual frameworks to practical use by construction workers.APL-Bud builds on all the theoretical and institutional foundations to provide working models.It has been very pragmatic and practical, concentrating on achievable results that can be applied in the Polish context. It shall help to ensure that their new emerging systems take account of each other and are compatible. It is already of particular value to the other new accession states that share similar situations, and encourage the development of national systems for construction APL that can operate together in harmony with mutual recognition.