Towards an integrated approach to the recognition of professional competence and academic learning
- Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss the benefits of reclaiming the idea of professional competence and challenges fragmented approaches to academic qualification and professional recognition. It is argued that academic programmes that are integrated with the requirements for professional recognition can resolve the potentially unhelpful differentiation between “theory” and “practice” and between “knowledge” and “competence”.\ud \ud Design/methodology/approach – Three contextualised case studies are presented to demonstrate a range of possibilities for developing academic programmes that integrate professional competence in the fields of construction, aviation and management.\ud \ud Findings – It is argued that the examples described provide some evidence that where competence is conceived of as a matter of open on-going professional development, it can be effectively integrated and aligned with the intended outcomes of academic qualifications. Furthermore, that the examples described demonstrate that the idea of professional competence can operate to ground knowledge in practice contexts and ensure that professional values are positioned as a requirement of being qualified.\ud \ud Originality/value – The diversity of the examples provided across three distinct sectors illustrate the potential for wider curriculum development opportunities for higher education practitioners. The need to align professional body recognition with academic qualification for higher and degree apprenticeships may also indicate significant implications for policy in this area. The cases presented provide evidence that academic qualifications can be developed that are at the same time recognised by employers as delivering a professionally competent workforce. This kind of development activity can provide both an incentive for employers to pay for education and training and opening opportunities for career progression for those in work.