Why the change?
Fifteen years have passed since the introduction of the Qualification Order in 2001 and like all things, change is necessary to ensure a modern and results- oriented Public Service.
One of the most obvious reasons for the changes in the 2016 Qualification Order is that there are some qualifications referred to in the previous order that are no longer offered due to changes within examination boards, and the growth of approved Caribbean examination bodies, like the Caribbean Examination Council. For example, the new Order no longer speaks to ‘A’ levels or Certificates, today we generally refer to “CAPE” (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination) or an Associate Degree (although the equivalency of two ‘A’ Levels is still recognised).
The current educational environment also supports qualifications that measure occupational standards. This recognition is embraced in the 2016 Order with the inclusion of the Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQ’s) and the National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ’s). These qualifications give credence to the measurement of occupational standards that may be more relevant than traditional academic qualifications, in some posts.
Individuals should note however, that just because a qualification is not included in the Order it does not mean that it has no status. Once the Accreditation Council and the Ministry of the Education recognises that qualification, the issue arising is one of equivalency.
Section 3.2 of the Order states that, ‘the Minister shall determine any question as to whether or not a qualification is equivalent to a qualification specified in the Schedule.’
Where there is a query concerning equivalency, a review is undertaken by the Ministry of the Civil Service to compare the required qualification with the qualification given with input from a relevant professional body/ educational institution and/ or the Barbados Accreditation Council. A determination is made, if it is deemed equivalent the Minister ratifies it.
During the period 2001 to 2016, there have been countless requests by agencies to update qualifications. These ad-hoc changes were undertaken and the relevant ministry /department notified via memorandum; however, these changes were not legislated, the 2016 Order now captures those changes. Thus giving clarity to recruitment, appointments and promotions throughout the Public Service.
In addition, the 2016 Order also sought to rectify some anomalies that were present in previous Orders. For example: the ‘CXC’ as a qualification has never existed, ‘CXC’ Caribbean Examination Council is an examining body. The qualification often referred to as ‘CXC’ is actually the “CSEC,” that is, the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate. Additionally, the laws of Barbados make mandatory that all children must attend school to the age of sixteen (16), thus including a primary school education as a job requirement ran contrary to the laws of the land. This standard has been corrected to run in congruence with our laws.
The Expected Outcomes
With the gazetting of the 2016 Order, Public Officers now have greater clarity in regard to building a solid career path in the public service as the updated Order contains all the relevant information required to make informed decisions on their career paths. It should also result in a calmer industrial relations climate - as Unions and their representatives can now be guided by the Order for long awaited appointments and promotions. Indeed, it is envisioned that the Personnel Administration Division’s task will be made a lot easier in regard to recruitment in the public service.
How the Order was Developed
From 2012 to 2016, Ministries and Departments were given the opportunity to respond to the Ministry of the Civil Service (MCS) request (via memorandum) to review and comment on the qualification requirements on all posts for which they are responsible (those in the 2001 Qualification Order and those changed under memoranda). All agencies responded. During the review period, some agencies recognised that some qualification requirements needed to be revisited to reflect changes in job responsibility and job relevancy.
Subsequently, consultations were held with the Unions on the draft Order for their comments and input. After the Unions were satisfied with the draft, it was sent to the Minister and ratified in Parliament in December 2016.
The recent ratification of this new Qualification Order is just one aspect of on-going change within the public service. This change like many others is necessary to maintain a workforce that is effective, responsive and relevant to the needs of a nation that is constantly changing in a world of change.