Authors: Andrea Laczik & Trisha Fettes
This research explored stakeholder perceptions and use of National Occupational Standards (NOS), and visions for their future, to inform the NOS Governance Group’s pre-strategy work. The Group consists of representatives of the three Devolved Administrations (DA), Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, who work collaboratively to ensure common agreement and a shared vision of NOS and that they are fit for purpose and responsive to change.
What are NOS? National Occupational Standards (NOS) specify the standard of performance an individual must achieve when carrying out a function in the workplace, together with the knowledge and understanding they need to meet that standard consistently. Each standard describes one key role in a job function. Taken together NOS describe occupational competence – what it means to be competent in a job role. To be fit for purpose NOS must address requirements to do with: technical skills and knowledge, managing the work process and environment, and working relationships. They cover not only what someone must do, but the outcomes they must achieve.
Structure of the report
The Findings of the research are discussed under five headings:
- Why use NOS: different stakeholder perceptions of the importance, functions and value of NOS are presented along with views on alternatives to NOS;
- Use of NOS: perceptions relating to the extent of awareness of NOS are summarised. Examples are given of use by primary and other users for different purposes, including what is said to work well and the challenges;
- NOS content and quality assurance: perceptions of NOS content, and reflection of current skills needs and future skills demand is discussed, including the critical analysis of the process of generating timely content;
- Ease of access to NOS: stakeholders’ experiences and reflections of using the NOS database are outlined relating to accessibility, presentation, size and language;
- Vision and shaping the future of NOS: how stakeholders envision the future of NOS and their suggestions for priorities in shaping their future.
Recommendations - Taster
There are a number of underpinning considerations that are important in setting the direction for the future of NOS. These include:
- Identify priorities in terms of the:
- target user groups
- purposes for using national occupational standards
- sectors and occupations to be covered, exploring, for example, potential for emphasising generic and niche skills and those occupations identified in national classification systems such as SOC 2020
- Identify the underlying principles of NOS
- Develop a clear link between purpose, target group and needs with regard to content and presentation of standards taking into account different uses