Do we need standards on skills?

March 31, 2016

Let me use a plumber as an example. A plumber is a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining systems used for potable (drinking) water, sewage and drainage in plumbing systems.


Some needed skills, interests, and values (Wikipedia):

  • Reading drawings, and specifications to determine layout of water supply, waste, and venting systems

  • Detecting faults in plumbing appliances and systems, and correctly diagnosing their causes

  • Installing, repairing and maintaining domestic, commercial, and industrial plumbing fixtures and systems

  • Locating and marking positions for pipe connections, passage holes, and fixtures in walls and floors

  • Measuring, cutting, bending, and threading pipes using hand and power tools or machines

  • Joining pipes and fittings together using soldering techniques, compression fittings, threaded fittings, and push-on fittings.

  • Testing pipes for leaks using air and water pressure gauges

  • Awareness of legal regulations and safety issues

  • Ensuring safety standards and build regulations are met.





If I need a plumber in Norway, I know the kind of worker I would call. I have some expectation to the skills to someone calling himself a plumber. I also expect he has a Journeyman`s Certificate documenting his skills. What about the skills to a plumber in Germany, England, USA, India, Brazil or Tanzania? Can I expect the same standard of the skilled plumber in all those countries?



Qualifications (certificates, diplomas and titles) play an important role in modern societies. For individuals, qualifications signal personal, social and professional status; employers rely on qualifications for recruitment purposes to fill increasingly skills and knowledge intensive jobs; education and training institutions use qualifications as statements of quality. Qualifications are thus carriers of information and value and extensively influencing the way individuals and education/training as well as labour market institutions interact with each other (Cedefop). 


Skill standards tell us what a worker needs to know and do on the job and how well he or she needs to perform to succeed in the workplace. Skill standards define both the work itself and the worker qualifications, specifically the skills and knowledge required to successfully perform the work.


Do we need a universal standard of skills?


Do we need a universal standard for plumbers? Do we need a universal standard of all kind of skilled workers? 





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