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Jonathan Winterton

This chapter commences by clarifying the concepts of competence and competency and sets out the drivers of the competence movement. Although a complicated and contested concept, competence has come to play a central role in IHRD policy discourse and labour market practice, yet this has only intensified controversies and divisions between the worlds of education and work. Competence-based approaches to IHRD offer scope to establish international and cross-sector comparability and transparency in qualifications in support of labour mobility provided unifying frameworks can transcend country differences in competence models. The chapter discusses the need to bridge the gap between practice and policy in an IHRD context. The institutions, sectoral, national and supra-national, which shape processes of HRD largely determine dominant competence models in particular contexts and there is a need for continued research in this area. Similarly, among the implications for IHRD practice of this analysis of competence are two other priorities for research: how to establish workplace learning that is most conducive to developing competence and targeting competence development that gives most sustainable returns on performance.

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Jonathan Winterton and Nigel Haworth

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Jonathan Winterton and Kenneth Cafferkey

This chapter provides a chronology of understanding of human capital theory tracing its roots back to the pioneering work of Adam Smith. The chapter traces the theoretical underpinnings of human capital theory and its evolution in the human resources literature. The chapter then goes on to criticize the misconception in understanding and measurement of human capital as overly simplistic whereby understanding of human capital theory amounts to more than simply counting training initiatives. Generational differences in understanding human capital theory are then discussed in respect of changing attitudes to work and skills development. The chapter concludes by developing a new approach to assessing human capital within organizations based on the Ability, Motivation, Opportunity framework.

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Jonathan Winterton and Travis Turnbow

The following account describes the evolution of competence theory, its influence in recent European policy and an example of how it has been used in practice by the European transnational company Airbus. Competence, like skill, is a contested and sometime controversial concept, but there is broad consensus that it encapsulates the skills, knowledge and behaviours necessary to perform to the standards of employment in a work context. How such competence is developed, assessed and deployed inevitably varies substantially between sectors and occupations, but there are also profound theoretical differences between countries. Therefore, when the European Commission was seeking to create a credit transfer system for vocational education and training, and ultimately the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), it was necessary to find the best fit with existing approaches to competence. The team that developed the competence typology for the European Credit transfer system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) analysed the three dominant approaches in Europe and proposed a unifying framework based on the common factors.