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[edit] Introduction

The term “competence” has many definitions which vary according to context. As the term is used widely, often vaguely, and in many different ways, it is often unclear exactly what is being referred to. Nevertheless, there appears to be unanimous agreement that the success of a company is crucially dependent on the extent to which employees possess relevant competences and are able to acquire and apply useful new ones.

[edit] Facts

In general, competences are less narrowly related to specific occupational requirements than are qualifications. Whereas qualifications are acquired in a formal process and validated by certificates of proficiency, competences relate to individuals. They describe a person’s ability to meet particular demands of everyday life. Thus, according to Rolf Arnold and Ingeborg Schüßler, competences extend beyond a person’s formally attested skills to include his or her mental ability and capacity for self-organisation.

[edit] Competence development

The competences vary in significance depending on the situation. In the dynamically developing knowledge economy, employees are often faced with new and complex requirements. They encounter complex, unstructured situations that, alongside formally acquired qualifications, require a personal ability to analyse situations and develop problem-solving strategies. Therefore, ongoing development of different employee competences is becoming increasingly important. The notion of competence development extends beyond a process of training predominantly concerned with the transmission of knowledge and encompasses the development of action competence” [Handlungskompetenz]. Lifelong learning pursues the aim of equipping people to handle new situations effectively.

[edit] Competence management

The objective of competence management within a company is to make effective, long-term use of the potential available to every company in the form of the skills and competences of its employees. A skills needs analysis can help determine which skills and abilities are already available, which are needed and what upskilling is currently required and will be required in the future.

[edit] Demographic competence risk

It is also very important for companies to reduce their “demographic competence risk” – the risk that knowledge will be lost as older employees leave. Intergenerational knowledge transfer helps prevent such loss of knowledge.

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