Demographic trends, labour market needs, and increasing length of working life make lifelong learning a necessity. Lifelong learning is one of the most important factors for success, keeping up with changes in the labour market and reducing skill gaps. A special role in the practical implementation of the idea of lifelong learning and increasing human capital in Poland is played by the integration of the qualifications system with its fundamental tool - the Integrated Qualifications Register (IQR). One of the purposes of the IQR is to facilitate access to information to a wide audience, to become a useful tool for all interested parties. This article outlines the basic functionality of the IQR.
A special role in the practical implementation of the idea of lifelong learning and increasing human capital in Poland is played by the Integrated Qualifications Register. The IQR is one of the most important elements of the Integrated Qualification System, which was launched in Poland in 2016 under the Act of 22 December 2015 on the Integrated Qualifications System. The IQR is a public register that stores information about all qualifications included in IQS independently of other existing registers and inventories in Poland created for the needs of individual ministries, industries, communities and institutions. The IQR combines different qualification systems, which until now have functioned autonomously in Poland. Thanks to the register, the information on qualifications is easily accessible in one place for all interested parties and all institutions that cooperate with one another within the Integrated Qualification System. The register also serves as a liaison for the institutions that collaborate within the IQS.
The Integrated Qualifications Register was designed by Polish experts at the Educational Research Institute (IBE) and is adapted to national needs. Various lists of qualifications have been in place for years around the world, including in European countries. In Europe, work is under way to integrate the information about the qualifications functioning in individual countries on the basis of the European Qualifications Framework, by making them available on the LOQ and ESCO portals.
The Integrated Qualifications Register is intended to support the implementation of lifelong learning policies by supporting access to reliable information about high quality qualifications. It is an instrument that links education with the labour market, facilitating the adaptation of learners' competencies to the requirements of employers and the socio-economic needs of the country.
The register stores detailed information about all the qualifications included in the Integrated Qualification System and about entities related to these qualifications: awarding bodies, external quality assurance entities, entities submitting applications for inclusion of qualifications in the IQS, ministries responsible for particular qualifications.
One of the IQR's objectives is to make information easily accessible to a wide audience:
* Help employees and job seekers, wishing to fill skill gaps, develop their competencies in order to gain new qualifications and, as a result, to have access to new career opportunities.
* Facilitate assessing competencies of candidates applying for work (which will streamline the recruitment process); provide assistance in better planning of activities aimed at supporting the professional development of employees; increase the competitiveness of the company thanks to qualified staff holding certificates with the PQF level.
* Support government offices, institutions and non-governmental organizations in accessing a continuously updated database of qualifications available in the labour market.
* Assist teachers, school counsellors, and careers officers in meet their professional commitments.
* Create, for parents advising their children and learners interested in obtaining qualifications, better opportunities to plan their development or next career steps in Poland and abroad.
In the IQR every user can check what requirements have to be met, what skills have to be demonstrated in order to confirm a given qualification, where these skills can be verified, validated and where the user can obtain a given certificate. Interested parties will find in the register not only a complete list of awarding bodies, but also information on the entities conducting monitoring and periodic evaluation of qualification awarding activities. In the calendar accompanying the register one can find dates of workshops and seminars on the IQR. Through the register, it is also possible to submit a request for inclusion of a qualification in the system, a request for authorization to award a qualification and for inclusion in the list of external quality assurance entities. These activities are possible thanks to the constantly enhanced functionalities of the IQR which will be outlined below.
When searching for information in the register, depending on the needs, we can use the tabs in the horizontal menu:
* Qualifications (IQR)
* Awarding Bodies (IQR)
Searching the register for information related to qualifications is easy. There is a convenient filter that allows one to search for qualifications based on: qualification category, qualification status, sector (one has to enter an appropriate name), PQF Level (IBE is in the process of translating qualifications in IQR into English).
We can also use the search functionality by typing a short text/qualification name in the appropriate box. This is possible if we know the full name of the qualification or the individual words that make up its name (in their exact wording). However, it is not hard to imagine a situation when the user does not know the names of the qualifications he/she is interested in. In this case, one can use the filter functionality: choose "Qualification category" and select: "higher education diploma", "from vocational education", "from fine arts education", "post-graduate studies diploma", "regulated", "market", "market qualifications in crafts" and "other qualifications".
"Qualification status" is a filter that allows one to search for items with the following statuses: "included", "in operation", "suspended", or "archived". It is also possible to search for qualifications on specific PQF/EQF level. With help of the filter "Qualification level", selecting one of the eight digits will result in a listing (and the ability to go to more detailed information) of the qualifications on a particular level.
One can also use the more advanced search functionality of the register with "Advanced Search" which facilitates filtering qualifications and their meta-data by:
* Type of qualification (full, partial)
* PKD code (Polish classification of business activities)
* Learning outcome
* Where can one get a diploma?
* ISCED code
* Qualification code (until 2020)
* Date of inclusion
* Awarding Bodies
* Minister in charge
Qualifications can also be sorted (by date added to the register), by name and by PQF level.
The registry includes a list of awarding bodies (ABs) and external quality assurance (EQA) entities that monitor ABs activities. A user can find information about IQS-related ministries, entities from higher education and school education systems, and those that have submitted or submit market qualifications to the IQS. Searching for this information is simple. By clicking "Entities (IQR)" tab on the register website, we get access to simple and advanced filters with the help of which we can search among 1,493 institutions related to the IQS. One can filter the search results by the role the entity performs in the IQS, the category of a qualification and the location - the city where the institution is located. "Role" allows one to filter search data by: "awarding body", "minister in charge", "validating entity", "applicant", "institution that has included the qualification in the IQS", "external quality assurance entity". "Category" allows one to search for an institution by the category of qualification it is related to: "higher education diploma", "from vocational education", "form fine arts education", "postgraduate study diploma", "regulated", "market", "market qualifications in crafts", "other qualifications".
The IQR functionalities described above are among those most commonly used. However, this does not mean that they are the only ones used by various users of the register and the only ones which can benefit potential users.
The plans related to the future of the IQS and IQR respond to the current challenges and fit into European or global trends of thinking about education. As part of the work on the IQS and IQR, two applications were developed and made available to users: Compass and Compass of Sectoral Education. They support different groups of system users in defining and choosing their career paths: job seekers, students, parents, and people who want to retrain or obtain additional qualifications. The overall goal of the application is to provide tools that will allow one to more easily make important decisions about lifelong learning, find multi-sided similarities and relationships between qualifications, determine possible learning paths based on competencies, interests and needs. Users. All of this is already possible through the use of computer tools and artificial intelligence methods.