Competences and European Framework: Which Critical Approach in front of The Great Transformation?


Abstract Purpose. Competence is the ability of people to implement knowledge, skills and attitudes to achieve higher levels of performance, and knowledge for one’s development. A wide range of pedagogical literature has been produced on competence, but we think an additional and more dynamic definition of competence is needed.
Design/methodology/approach. Considering the results of a European project – SMEQUAL – and its theoretical insights, the paper discusses the issues of competence considering authors like Salling, Olesen and Weinert.
Findings. The paper reaches the following conclusions: the notion of competence is relevant for both technical knowledge and in terms of relations and ethics concerning people’s behaviour. We agree with Olesen’s views that there is a need for a new language of competence which moves towards a more relational and holistic view.
Research limitations/implications. This research provides a critical debate about the concept of competence.
Originality/value. The paper underlines some opportunities for a more extensive concept of competence drawing on the capability approach of Sen and Nussbaum.
Paper type. Issues paper.

Keywords: ECVET, Competence, Work-based learning, Capability approach.